|Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.
Last week, The Post reported that abortion access has become one of the most salient issues in the race to pick Virginia’s next governor. And when it comes to the rest of the Republican ticket, the whole is far worse than the sum of its parts.
Taken together, the Republican candidates represent an “Anti-Choice Dream Team” that is the greatest threat to legal abortion — and even birth control — in the modern history of the commonwealth.
To be sure, when it comes to extreme disregard for women’s rights, the Republican nominee for governor, Ed Gillespie, takes the cake. From calling for a ban on abortion to believing it is okay to teach that birth control is a sin, we all know that Gillespie has an extreme view.
Unfortunately, he’s not alone.
Filling out the rest of the GOP ticket are candidates who have built their careers on undermining women and stripping away our most basic rights.
The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Jill Vogel, has doubled down on forcing pregnant women in Virginia to undergo invasive, unnecessary and unwanted trans-vaginal ultrasounds. Even after our state became a national laughingstock over this unconscionable proposal, Vogel continues to boast about her callous legislation.
As lieutenant governor, she would be the tie-breaking vote in the state senate, imperiling the rights and well-being of Virginians for years to come. This was the case in 2012 when Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling used his tie-breaking vote to force through a bill mandating transabdominal ultrasounds 24 hours before an abortion.
Furthermore, the GOP candidate to be our state’s top lawyer, John Adams, has challenged our constitutional right to abortion, calling Roe v. Wade “questionable.” As a corporate lawyer, Adams supported Hobby Lobby’s effort to deny their employees coverage for birth control. Adams even openly ridiculed a gay couple’s right to marry, proving that as attorney general no one would be safe from his ideological assault on our constitutional rights and basic human dignity.
Of course, the true ringleader of the anti-choice dream team is Gillespie. His call for abortion to be banned is one of the most radical positions taken by any politician in the United States. Gillespie has also pushed for legislation to prohibit women from accessing abortion later in pregnancy and supported medically unnecessary regulations designed to shutter abortion providers.
Gillespie’s commitment to this far-right ideology runs deep. He claims that restricting abortion is a “central role of government.” Gillespie has lobbied for a group with an anti-choice agenda and proudly stood with Vice President Pence at an anti-abortion rally hosted by a group that calls abortion “the greatest human rights violation of our time.”
The truth is that the Virginia GOP ticket led by Gillespie is an anti-choice trifecta that would use its power to force a rigid ideology on you and your family.
Luckily, Virginians have a better choice. The Democratic ticket is a team of true reproductive rights champions who have always stood up for our most fundamental values.
Ralph Northam, a former Army doctor and state senator, has made his fight for the rights of women a foundation of his life’s work. Northam led the charge against the GOP’s forced ultrasound bill and stood tall against attempts to defund Planned Parenthood. As governor, he would work to expand access to basic reproductive health care, which is why NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and NARAL Pro-Choice America support his campaign.
Similarly, the Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general, Justin Fairfax and Mark Herring, have a strong history of defending the rights and freedoms of women across the commonwealth.
These leaders know that standing up for our basic rights is not only the right thing to do, it’s also smart politics. The simple fact is that seven in 10 Americans agree that abortion should remain legal and accessible. That’s not just a majority, that’s a consensus. And that consensus will power political victories in Virginia and beyond.
Tarina Keene is executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia.