Leahy: Youngkin’s Options for an Abortion Ban Dim

There’s a distinct change in the air for Virginia Republicans, and, for once, it’s got nothing to do with ex-president Donald Trump.

It’s abortion and what manner of restrictions Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and his select team of four GOP legislators will propose in the 2023 General Assembly session.

Abortion politics have changed markedly in the past few months, particularly for those candidates facing voters in November. Disappearing from some Republican talking points and websites are endorsements of maximalist abortion restrictions (as well as links to Trump).

Perhaps it was the shock loss of an antiabortion constitutional amendment in Kansas a few weeks ago that changed the tide. Maybe it’s individual campaigns deciding sweeping abortion bans alienate way too many suburban voters. Whatever the (evolving) reason may be, a lot has changed, and more may be on the horizon.

Which brings us back to Youngkin and his abortion ban quartet.

Back in July, before the Kansas vote, I wrote that Youngkin’s biggest political concern on abortion wasn’t Democrats, but maximalist Republicans such as 5th Congressional District Rep. Bob Good.

Good sent a warning to Youngkin and the other GOP denizens of Capitol Square, as reported by WTRV: “ ‘Republicans should not be negotiating the timeline on when abortion should be permitted or when abortion is OK or when it’s OK to take life in the womb,’ Good said. ‘Republicans ought to stand openly, boldly, and unashamedly for life from conception and to protect all life in the womb.’ ”

Youngkin has said he wants to ban abortion after 15 weeks and would settle for a 20-week ban, but, in his heart, he wants what Good wants: protections that extend to the moment of conception.

Six weeks later, Good’s maximalism looks increasingly like a political loser, especially for a candidate like Youngkin, who is carefully nursing ambitions for future elected office.

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