Virginia GOP state Senate candidate took $250,000 from anti-abortion politicians

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The outcome of the state Senate election could have sweeping implications for abortion rights in Virginia.

Kevin Adams, the Republican nominee for a competitive state Senate special election in Virginia, took a quarter of a million dollars in campaign contributions from anti-abortion lawmakers, according to a review of campaign finance records by the American Independent Foundation.

The outcome of the contest could have implications for abortion rights in Virginia, as Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has said he wants the Legislature to pass a 15-week abortion ban in the state now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade.

Adams calls himself "pro-life" and has endorsed Youngkin's 15-week abortion prohibition, saying it would include "exceptions to protect the life of the mother or in the instance of rape or incest."

Politico reported that the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America has spent $30,000 in support of his campaign.

"If we're successful in Senate District 7 and a pro-life champion comes out as the senator there, we've got the opportunity to move pain-capable protections forward and get them through to Gov. Youngkin's desk," the group's vice president of state affairs, Stephen Billy, told Politico in December.

After the Virginia Senate Republican Caucus, the largest donor to Adams' campaign was Youngkin, whose Spirit of Virginia PAC has made $248,926 worth of in-kind expenditures on his behalf. Youngkin has described himself as "staunchly, unabashedly pro-life" and said he is "proud to be a pro-life governor."

Also among Adams' donors is Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears, whose Winsome PAC gave $10,000, according to campaign finance records.

Sears has spread lies about abortion, including that abortion providers "sell baby parts" and that "the blood running through the veins of the baby don't [sic] belong to her [the pregnant person], it's not her blood."

Virginia GOP state Sen. Ryan McDougle's campaign also gave $10,000 to Adams. During his time in the state Senate, McDougle voted for a bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood and sponsored another piece of legislation that would have required patients to undergo transvaginal ultrasounds before obtaining an abortion.

Republican state Sen. John Cosgrove's campaign gave $5,000 to Adams. Cosgrove voted against a bill to ensure contraceptives are not considered abortion under state law. He also voted against repealing the Virginia law that required a 24-hour waiting period before the medical procedure, and mandated that those seeking abortions receive an ultrasound before the procedure.

Adams is facing off in Tuesday's special election against Democratic Virginia Beach City Council member and former NFL player Aaron Rouse for the seat, which became vacant when Republican Jen Kiggans was elected to Congress.

Rouse has made protecting abortion rights a focus of his campaign. His campaign website says that he "believes that reproductive health care decisions should be made between a person and their doctor, not by politicians."

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia endorsed Rouse in December.

"If elected, Aaron Rouse will champion reproductive freedom — including access to abortion, affordable birth control, and the full spectrum of reproductive care — and fight back against any attempt to roll back Virginians' rights," the group said in a statement.

The pro-choice group called Adams "an extremist who wants to ban abortion" and noted his "ties to 'crisis pregnancy centers' (CPCs), which are anti-abortion organizations known to lie and deceive patients and are considered 'unethical' by the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics."

Virginia's 7th state Senate District is competitive. Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the district by 4 points in 2021, while former Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam won the seat by 9 points in 2017, according to the Virginia Public Access Project and the progressive site Blue Virginia. Democrats are looking to pick up the seat to expand the party's slim Senate majority, which currently stands at 21-18.

The special election could determine the future of abortion rights in the state. Democratic state Sen. Joe Morrissey has a mixed record on supporting reproductive rights. On Jan. 4, he told Richmond television station WRIC that he has an "open mind" about a possible 15-week abortion ban. Were Morrissey to join every Republican voting for such a bill, Sears could break the 20-20 tie.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.