June 29, 2022 News & Press Releases

ICYMI: Yesli Vega Doubts Pregnancy After Rape, Then Doubles Down On Comments

by Democratic Party of Virginia

Richmond, VA – In case you missed it, Yesli Vega radical Republican nominee for VA-07, was caught on an audio tape channeling her inner Todd Akin and downplayed the possibility of someone getting pregnant through rape. Then, after being asked about her radical comments, Vega did not address or correct the record on her false, offensive statements. 


Washington Post: Spanberger’s rival questions on tape whether pregnancy less likely after rape

  • Yesli Vega… drew outrage Monday after audio published by Axios Richmond appeared to capture her theorizing inaccurately about why rape might not lead to pregnancy in a conversation about abortion and exceptions to abortion bans.
  •  Her comments elicited swift condemnation from Virginia Democrats and drew comparisons to other Republican politicians who infamously tanked their campaigns after making controversial comments about abortion and rape.
  • The tape captured an exchange between Vega, who is a Prince William County supervisor, and an unknown person who suggested to Vega, “I’ve actually heard it’s harder for a woman to get pregnant if she’s been raped. Have you heard that?”
  • Vega responded: “Well, maybe because there’s so much going on in the body, I don’t know. I haven’t seen any studies. But if I’m processing what you’re saying, it wouldn’t surprise me, because it’s not something that’s happening organically. Right? You’re forcing it.”
  • “The left will say, ‘Well, what about in cases of rape or incest?’ ” Vega said, apparently referring to exceptions to abortion bans in those cases. “I’m a law enforcement officer. I became a police officer in 2011. I worked one case where, as result of a rape, the young woman became pregnant.”
  • Then the unidentified person asked Vega if she had heard it’s harder for rape victims to get pregnant. As Vega explained why she thought that could be true, the woman added in agreement: “Exactly. Like, the body shuts down in some way.”
  • “Yeah, yeah. And the individual, the male is doing it as quickly — it’s not like, you know — so I can see why maybe there’s truth to that,” Vega responded.
  • The Washington Post requested an interview with Vega, including to ask questions about her positions on abortion policy in post-Roe America. She did not agree to an interview, instead sending a statement through a campaign spokesman that did not touch on her positions on abortion or her comments.
  • She then accused Spanberger of lying, although Vega did not say what about, and called her position on abortion “extreme.” A campaign spokesman did not immediately respond to questions about what Vega was referring to.
  • In a statement to The Post, Spanberger said Vega’s comments in the audio published by Axios were “devoid of truth, shamefully disrespectful toward victims of rape, and clearly indicate that she is not qualified to be making serious policy decisions on behalf of our fellow Virginians.”
  • “I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure a woman’s right to choose and the fundamental right to privacy,” Spanberger said.
  • State Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D), the president pro tempore of the Senate, in a tweet called Vega “a complete disgrace to everyone else wearing that uniform.” Susan Swecker, the chairwoman of the Virginia Democratic Party, called Vega’s comments “deeply hateful, offensive and an insult to all rape victims.”
  • “Vega’s indefensible comments have no place in Congress,” Swecker said in a statement. “The contrast could not be more clear between Yesli Vega and Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, who is a staunch defender of a woman’s right to choose and the fundamental right to privacy.”
  • Farnsworth and others noted the 2012 Senate campaign of Missouri’s Todd Akin tanked after Akin claimed inaccurately that it was “really rare” for pregnancy to occur after rape and that “the female body” would be able to “shut down” a “legitimate rape.”
  • Vega… before expressing apparent support for the Texas abortion law that banned abortion after six weeks; the state is now slated to ban all abortion.

New York Times: G.O.P. House Candidate Falsely Suggests Pregnancy From Rape Is Unlikely

  • A Republican nominee in a closely watched House race in Virginia made bizarre and false comments about rape victims, saying in leaked audio recordings that she wouldn’t be surprised if a woman’s body prevents pregnancies from rape because “it’s not something that’s happening organically,” and that the rapist is doing it “quickly.”
  • Ms. Vega cited her experience as a police officer, saying that she had “worked one case” since 2011 “where as a result of rape the young woman became pregnant.”
  • In the second clip, after the unidentified woman said she heard that it is “harder for a woman to get pregnant if she’s been raped,” Ms. Vega replied: “Well maybe, because there’s so much going on in the body, I don’t know. I haven’t, haven’t, you know, seen any studies but if I’m processing what you’re saying it wouldn’t surprise me, because it’s not something that’s happening organically, right? It’s forcing it.”
  • After the unidentified woman said the body “shuts down,” Ms. Vega replied: “Yeah, yeah, and then the individual, the male, is doing it as quickly, it’s not like, you know, and so I can see why maybe there’s truth to that.”
  • She also said her political opponents “would rather lie and twist the truth” than explain their stance on abortion.
  • Her campaign did not explain what “lie” her comment was referring to.
  • On Twitter, Ms. Spanberger called Ms. Vega’s comments “extreme and ignorant” and “devoid of truth.”
  • Ms. Vega’s recorded comments are similar to remarks made in August 2012 by Representative Todd Akin, who, as the Republican Senate nominee in Missouri, said pregnancy from rape is “really rare” because, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
  • Leading Republicans called on Mr. Akin to drop out of the race, which he rebuffed. He went on to lose the race to the Democratic incumbent, Senator Claire McCaskill, by nearly 16 percentage points.

CNN: Paul Begala slams comments from a GOP congressional candidate in Virginia who falsely suggests it’s harder for a woman to get pregnant as a result of rape

MSNBC: Comments about rapes, pregnancies cause trouble for GOP candidate

  • A decade after Todd Akin's campaign was derailed by rhetoric about pregnancies resulting from rape, Virginia's Yesli Vega made a similar mistake.
  • Over the last decade, a great many Republicans — both officeholders and candidates — have struggled publicly in response to questions about pregnancies resulting from rape. As we’ve discussed, it’s tempting to assume that all GOP candidates, no matter how vehement their opposition to reproductive rights, would now know to prepare a compelling answer.
  • Yesli Vega, the Republican nominee running against Democrat Abigail Spanberger for Congress, downplayed the possibility of becoming pregnant as a result of rape when asked about her stance on abortion at a campaign stop last month, according to audio obtained by Axios.
  • Indeed, the Democratic incumbent wasted little time yesterday drawing attention to Vega’s comments yesterday, calling the Republican’s rhetoric “extreme,” “ignorant, “and “devoid of truth.”
  • As longtime readers may recall, it was 10 years ago when Republican Todd Akin famously declared, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” The Missourian was, of course, in a competitive U.S. Senate race at the time, which he ended up losing.
  • Two months later, in Indiana’s U.S. Senate race, Republican Richard Mourdock argued that when a woman is impregnated by a rapist, “it’s something God intended.” He soon after lost, too.
  • As the dust settled on the 2012 election cycle, and Akin and Mourdock lost their red-state contests, Kellyanne Conway was brought in to advise House GOP candidates and officeholders on the issue. Conway — at the time, a prominent Republican pollster, years before she joined Donald Trump’s political operation — implored her partisan allies: Stop talking about rape.
  • Ten years later, some in the party appear to have forgotten the lesson. 
  • As Vega adds her name to this unfortunate list, it’s hardly unreasonable to wonder how many more Republicans will echo such rhetoric as the election season unfolds over the next several months.