Abortion looms large in Virginia’s general election

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(The Center Square) — The issue of abortion has loomed large in this year’s General Assembly general election, as Virginia is the only state in the South not to impose additional restrictions on abortion after the release of the Dobbs decision.

As Virginia has a chance of a Republican trifecta after Nov. 7, Democrats this election season have captured national attention as they fight to preserve abortion freedoms in the state.

The Democratic governor of Illinois, J.B. Pritzker, made news Wednesday as he came to his party’s aid. Just weeks ago, he launched a nonprofit abortion rights group called Think Big America, and the group has already donated to Virginia’s elections – $25,000 to four key Democratic races and $150,000 to the state’s Democratic party.

Pressure for Virginia Democrats rose in May when both North and South Carolina – the last holdouts south of Virginia – passed legislation imposing partial bans on abortion. They chose to lead with abortion, making it the focus of their first ads this election season.

“MAGA Republicans in Richmond want Virginia to be next – defunding planned parenthood, a total abortion ban, no exceptions,” the ad said.

“No politician should come between a woman and her doctor,” has been a common refrain among those campaigning.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin has consistently argued for instating a 15-week ban on abortion in the state, with exceptions in extreme cases.

State Democrats have underscored what some Republicans have said in private – that they ultimately want a total ban – implying that if Republicans get the trifecta, that’s what they will do.

Many Republican candidates have highlighted other parts of their platforms this election season – like the role of parents in education, cutting taxes, transportation infrastructure and public safety – perhaps hoping that other issues might eclipse their views on abortion, as the idea of additional abortion restrictions isn’t popular in the state. A poll conducted by Christopher Newport University in January showed that 70% of Virginians oppose additional restrictions.

When asked directly where they stand, Republican candidates tersely express solidarity with the governor and say things like, “I support the governor’s commonsense 15-week abortion ban, with exceptions.”

However, in recent weeks, Youngkin has taken the offensive with ads suggesting Democrats are the ones with the extreme views on abortion, not Republicans. Though there is currently a 26-week ban on abortion in the state, the ad implies Democrats want no restrictions at all.

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