Youngkin says strict abortion ban would be 'appropriate' for Virginia

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A day after his revealing comments in Thursday's debate, the Republican gubernatorial nominee received the endorsement of a major anti-abortion PAC.

Virginia Republican Glenn Youngkin said on Thursday that he would back a ban on abortions after the 20-week mark. A day later, his gubernatorial campaign received the endorsement of a national political action committee working toward a total ban on abortion.

The GOP nominee was asked in a debate whether he would support a six-week abortion ban like the one recently enacted in Texas if it had exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and threats to the life of the pregnant person.

Youngkin dodged the question, but did endorse a ban on abortions after 20 weeks — when conservatives claim fetuses are capable of feeling pain despite medical evidence to the contrary.

"We can sit down and write legislation together," he told moderator Susan Page. "But what I have said is that I do believe a pain threshold bill legislation would be appropriate." He then accused his Democratic opponent — former Gov. Terry McAuliffe — of holding "extreme views" by not backing new abortion rights restrictions.

Noting the dodge, McAuliffe asked Page, "Are you satisfied with that answer?"

"Well, I think that's the answer I'm gonna get," she responded.

Anti-abortion lawmakers have pushed to ban abortions after 20 weeks despite a lack of scientific evidence of fetal pain at that point.

Youngkin has previously been cagey about his anti-abortion positions. At a June fundraising event, he said he could not "go on offense" against abortion during the campaign on the issue because doing so would alienate voters — but would do so if elected.

"As a campaign topic, sadly, that in fact won't win my independent votes that I have to get," he acknowledged. "So you'll never hear me support Planned Parenthood, what you'll hear me talk about is actually taking back the radical abortion policies that Virginians don't want."

A 2020 Public Policy Polling survey found 79% of Virginia voters believe abortion should be legal and that the government should not prevent anyone from making those health care decisions. That view was held by 95% of Democrats, 79% of independents, and even 55% of Republicans. Just 19% of Virginians supported making abortion illegal.

Vying for the no. 2 spot under Youngkin, GOP lieutenant governor candidate Winsome Sears was caught scrubbing her own rabidly anti-abortion positions from her campaign website last week. An issues page that until recently said abortion rights are "wicked" now makes no mention of abortion whatsoever — though she recently endorsed a Texas-style six-week abortion ban for Virginia.

Hours making the comments on Thursday, Youngkin received an endorsement on Friday from the Susan B. Anthony List's Candidate Fund. "We're proud to endorse @GlennYoungkin," the group tweeted, "for calling out Democrats’ pro-abortion extremism and committing to be a champion for unborn children and their mothers as well as taxpayers in the Commonwealth."

Susan B. Anthony List's — which says its "mission is to end abortion" — posted a letter from Youngkin vowing to "stand up for the unborn and their mothers" and "proudly advocate to limit abortions when the unborn child can feel pain." He added that he believes "life begins at conception."

The PAC also endorsed Sears and GOP attorney general nominee Jason Miyares.

Abortion rights organizations have endorsed McAuliffe, Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Hala Ayala, and incumbent Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring for the Nov. 2 elections.

McAuliffe highlighted his pro-choice record in Thursday's debate, telling voters: "I will protect your rights. I believe a woman ought to make a decision about her own reproductive rights and I will support those. And I was a brick wall while I was governor. I vetoed all the bills that he [Youngkin] would have proposed that ban abortion and defund Planned Parenthood."

"Last night, Glenn Youngkin doubled down on his extreme right-wing agenda to ban abortion," Democratic Party of Virginia spokesperson Manuel Bonder told the American Independent Foundation. "The stakes could not be higher: we must elect Terry McAuliffe in order to protect the right to choose in Virginia."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.