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In the race for a state Senate, signs of a national fight against abortion

Youngkin doesn’t yet have the votes to enact that ban — but the narrow majority of Democrats in the state Senate put that special election between Virginia Beach City Councilman and former NFL safety Aaron Rouse, a Democrat , and Navy veteran Kevin Adams, a Republican. , in the national spotlight.

The frenzy over the state Senate seat – which covers parts of Virginia Beach and Norfolk and was won by Kiggans by 511 votes in 2019 – reveals how pro- and anti-abortion rights groups become granular in the post-deer era, and is “further proof that the fight for the future of abortion rights and abortion access is at the state level,” said Institute President Andrea Miller. National for Reproductive Health.

“These races at the state level and, I would say, increasingly at the municipal level, are really going to determine people’s ability to make decisions about their reproductive lives,” Miller said. “That’s going to be our future, especially in these swing states, where there’s a back and forth that’s constantly happening.”

While groups on both sides of the abortion debate often invest in state legislative races, this special election has attracted unusually large sums of money for a single special legislative election, according to groups on the ground.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia’s PAC is spending nearly $100,000 on the race, in what the organization’s executive director, Jamie Lockhart, described as “by far the biggest investment we’ve made in a special election over the past of the three years I was with the CAP.

And Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, which has historically focused on federal racing, is spending $30,000 to reach 10,000 homes via phone, direct mail and digital ads in line with its recent expansion into level racing. States.

“If a pro-abortion candidate wins this race, we have no way forward for the next session and babies will continue to feel the pain of late-term abortions,” said Stephen Billy, vice president of state affairs. at SBA Pro-Life America. “If we’re successful in Senate District 7 and a pro-life champion runs for senator there, we have an opportunity to push the pain shields forward and get them to Governor Youngkin’s office.”

Rouse, the Democratic nominee, is betting an abortion-focused message will lead him to victory in the state Senate race – mimicking a strategy that propelled other Democrats to victory in close contests during the midterm elections.

“Look, I’m not going into the specifics of what a woman should discuss with her healthcare provider. I support current Virginia law as it stands and will fiercely defend against any legislation banning abortion in our state, our Commonwealth,” Rouse said in an interview. “This seat is essential to ensure that we can protect women’s rights to reproductive health care.”

And while Adams, the Republican, is public about his support for a 15-week abortion bill — even listing it as one of his platforms on his campaign website — he doesn’t. don’t campaign on it.

“Kevin Adams’ campaign is focused on the critical issues facing our community: lowering taxes for working families, creating jobs and keeping our neighborhoods safe,” said Kendyl Parker, campaign manager for Adams.

Some Republicans and anti-abortion groups say Democrats are using the prospect of a state abortion ban as a scare tactic to win special state elections.

“It is manipulation on the part of the Democratic candidate to suggest that this is what the Republican candidate would be able to do if he were in the Senate. It’s not, because it’s not going to come before him,” said Olivia Gans Turner, president of the Virginia Society for Human Life, an anti-abortion group. “That kind of legislation is definitely not on the table right now in Virginia.”

Even so, the group still plans to train its members to support Adams.

“We can’t lose a seat,” said Gans Turner. “There is a very slim margin. Losing a pro-life vote in the Senate at this point is not a good thing.

Democrats, meanwhile, argue that the future of abortion access hangs in the balance – and say the race is all the more critical after Virginia State Senator Jennifer McClellan, a an outspoken advocate for abortion rights, won the Democratic nomination to fill the seat left vacant after the death of Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Va.).

McClellan’s primary victory all but guarantees that she will win the majority Democratic district of McEachin in February – thus reducing the Democratic margin in the state Senate from three seats to two, and possibly positioning Senator Joe Morrissey, a Democrat anti-abortion, as a crucial pivot vote.

If the Democrats win the special Senate election in January, then even after McClellan leaves, they will hold a 21-18 majority and Morrissey will become a non-issue to abortion rights supporters; but if Republicans win — and Democrats hold a 20-19 majority — abortion rights groups fear Youngkin could use creative legislative maneuvers to push an anti-abortion bill through the Senate, where Morrissey could be the deciding vote.

“We are one seat away from anti-abortion measures in the state of Virginia,” Rouse said.

An aide to Morrissey did not respond to requests for comment.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia’s Lockhart described Morrissey as a “real joker”. Morrissey, who is known to have split with his party in key votes, voted against a 2020 bill that rolled back several abortion restrictions and said he would consider banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“For us, it’s about making sure we have the seat so that’s not an issue,” Lockhart said. “If Aaron Rouse wins – and we know we have an abortion rights champion out there – this siege reversal is enough to protect our rights and ensure there is no ban on abortion. abortion that goes to the governor’s office.”

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