Voting in Virginia begins in less than two weeks, and abortion law is taking center stage in Virginia’s statewide races. Democratic candidates are highlighting a controversial Texas law as an example of what Republicans would push for, while Republicans point to a late-term abortion bill that Virginia Democrats pushed for in 2019. On Friday, GOP lieutenant governor candidate Winsome Sears said on Newsmax that she would support a heartbeat bill in Virginia.
Sears said, “Here’s the thing: when did it become the wrong thing for us to support the babies in the womb?”
Her campaign softened that with a statement to The Hill: “While Winsome personally supports protecting life and the most vulnerable, as a former legislator herself she also recognizes that Virginia is very different from Texas, and that legislation could never have the votes to pass the Virginia General Assembly.”
Sears’ comments are an unusual departure in the Virginia races where candidates are more likely to speak about the dangerous abortion policies their opponents will support than speak about their own position.
Sears also pointed to comments current Governor Ralph Northam made in 2019 about the third-trimester abortion bill saying non-viable or severely-deformed infants. “The infant would be delivered; the infant would be kept comfortable; the infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desire, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” he said, according to WTOP.
Sears said her opponent Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Prince William) also supported the bill.
“Here’s the bottom line folks: Winsome Sears wants to turn Virginia into Texas when it comes to reproductive rights,” Ayala said at a Monday press conference with other Democratic candidates. “Her declaration needs to be taken as more than just another one of her extreme right wing talking points. Believe me, this is a pledge, a pledge to strip every Virginian of their fundamental right to choose.”
Some conservative outlets were not given access to the conference, preventing them from asking questions, but the Democratic Party of Virginia posted video of the conference to Youtube. In the video, the candidates express opposition to the Texas law and go into detail about their opponents’ positions, but offer little insight into the future direction of Democratic policy.
“The Democratic team here is all together to say we will make sure that we protect women’s rights. We will be brick walls to protect women’s reproductive rights. And there’s quite a difference between what the Democratic ticket is doing and what the Republican ticket,” Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe said.
“The candidate for governor, Glenn Youngkin, in July was caught secretly on tape saying that when he is governor and he has the house, that he will defund Planned Parenthood and he will ban all abortions in the Commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe added.
McAuliffe has been trying to bring Youngkin’s position on abortion into the forefront of the race since July, when American Bridge 21st Century PAC tweeted a video of Youngkin saying he won’t “get squishy” on abortion. He said he supports ending taxpayer money for abortions and to stop allowing abortions up until the last week before birth. In the video, Youngkin said he couldn’t campaign on the issue.
“But as a campaign topic, sadly, that in fact won’t win my independent votes that I have to get. So you’ll never hear me support Planned Parenthood; what you’ll hear me talking about is actually taking back the radical abortion policies that Virginians don’t want,” he said in the video.
Youngkin clarified his position in recent comments, according to The Hill. “I’m pro-life. I’ve said it from the beginning of this campaign,” he said. “I believe in exceptions in the case of rape, in the case of incest and in the case where the mother’s life is in jeopardy.”
“My biggest concern when it comes to abortion in Virginia is my opponent’s extreme views where he actually advocates for taxpayer abortion that would actually be available all the way up through and including birth,” Youngkin said.
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