Virginia state Senate race becomes battleground for abortion rights

Supreme Court Abortion
Protesters carry signs and march as they demonstrate near a federal court Tuesday May 3, 2022, in Richmond, Va. A draft opinion suggests the U.S. Supreme Court could be poised to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion nationwide, according to a Politico report released Monday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber) Steve Helber/AP

Virginia state Senate race becomes battleground for abortion rights

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A special election scheduled for next month to fill a seat in the Virginia state Senate has emerged as the latest abortion battleground, with groups on both sides of the issue investing heavily in the race.

SBA Pro-Life America and Planned Parenthood are both spending tens of thousands of dollars toward the race to fill the seat vacated by Rep.-elect Jen Kiggans (R-VA), believing that it could be crucial for determining abortion access in the state.

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Planned Parenthood is contributing almost $100,000 to help Democratic candidate Aaron Rouse snag the seat, while SBA Pro-Life America is putting forward $30,000 for mailers and digital ads in support of GOP candidate Kevin Adams, according to Politico.

With a razor-thin Democratic majority in the state Senate standing in the way of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s proposal to prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Democrats are banking on a win next month to fend off abortion restrictions next legislative session.

“Make no mistake, Governor Youngkin is courting anti-abortion extremists to help make his vision of banning abortion a terrifying reality in Virginia. With our state senate almost evenly divided, every single elected official is critical to our health and rights,” said Jamie Lockhart, executive director for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, in a statement. “We cannot afford to have Kevin Adams in the senate.”

Adams, a retired U.S. Navy lieutenant commander, has openly pledged to support Youngkin’s 15-week legislation with exceptions for the life of the mother and in cases of rape or incest. Meanwhile, Rouse, a former NFL player and member of the Virginia Beach City Council, has said he would oppose any abortion bans.

Stephen Billy, vice president of state affairs for SBA Pro-Life America, told Politico that if an anti-abortion rights candidate prevails in the race, then they believe there will be an opportunity to move forward with abortion restrictions.

Democrats currently hold a 21-19 majority in the state Senate, though Democratic state Sen. Joseph Morrissey has previously opposed abortion. Democrat’s margin could further narrow if Virginia state Sen. Jennifer McClellan is elected to fill the seat left vacant after the death of Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), potentially leaving Morrissey as a deciding vote for any abortion legislation.

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Virginia lawmakers will return on Jan. 11 for the 2023 legislative session, which is expected to last approximately 30 days.

© 2022 Washington Examiner

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