Leahy: Virginia’s Candidates Tussle With Abortion Rights, Thanks to Texas
Virginia political history is rhyming again.
The GOP had its moment about a week ago, as Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin’s campaign rolled out a batch of tax cuts that was loaded with historical parallels.
Now, it’s Democrats’ turn. Their historical rhyme is to Democrat Doug Wilder’s historic 1989 gubernatorial campaign and the abortion issue.
Then, the prime motivator was a July Supreme Court decision on a Missouri law restricting abortion. The Post’s Al Kamen reported that an “emotional, angrily divided Supreme Court” voted 5-to-4 to allow states to “impose substantial restrictions on the availability of abortions.”
The Wilder campaign ran with it but with a twist, as the text of a Wilder TV ad demonstrates:
An advertisement … for Mr. Wilder shows an American flag fluttering and a statue of Thomas Jefferson as the announcer says: ”In Virginia we have a strong tradition of freedom and individual liberty — rights that are now in danger in the race for governor.
“On the issue of abortion, Marshall Coleman wants to take away your right to choose and give it to the politicians. He wants to go back to outlawing abortion, even in cases of rape and incest. Doug Wilder believes the government shouldn’t interfere in your right to choose. He wants to keep the politicians out of your personal life. Don’t let Marshall Coleman take us back. To keep Virginia moving forward Doug Wilder is the clear choice.”
Writing about the Wilder’s abortion rights strategy in 1990, Jack Germond and Jules Witcover said it “was critical in encouraging Republicans to defect from their party to support Wilder.”
Thirty-one years later, and, as The Post’s Laura Vozzella reported, abortion rights are again front and center: “Democrat Terry McAuliffe had already been hammering on [a Texas fetal heartbeat law] and Republican Glenn Youngkin was doing his best to avoid it.”
The Texas law effectively bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. Its only exception is in case of medical emergency.
There’s also an upcoming Supreme Court case regarding a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks. In a brief with the court, Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch said “Nothing in the Constitution’s structure implies a right to abortion or prohibits states from restricting it.”
Bringing all this home to the commonwealth’s elections are statements from Youngkin and his ticketmate, lieutenant governor nominee Winsome Sears.