In a state Senate with a 20-20 tie on the issue of choice, Virginia’s next Lieutenant Governor will likely cast the vote to decide if a radical abortion ban like the one in Texas makes it through the General Assembly. Extreme Republican candidate Winsome Sears has made it abundantly clear she actively supports stripping an individual of their fundamental rights, despite the fact that 79% of Virginians support protecting access to abortion.
There’s only one candidate in the race for Lieutenant Governor who will fight for Virginians by protecting their reproductive health care and moving the Commonwealth forward: Delegate Hala Ayala.
Here’s what they’re saying:
A new Texas law banning nearly all abortions is shaping the final weeks of a historic lieutenant governor’s race in Virginia, with two women candidates seeking the number two seat in state government that could play an outsized role on policy decisions, including abortion rights.
Democrat Hala Ayala, a lawmaker in the state’s House of Delegates, and Winsome Sears, a Republican who served in the chamber in the early 2000s, have been clear throughout their campaigns about their position on abortion: Ayala supports abortion access, Sears opposes it. But the topic is front and center after the Texas law, which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, went into effect this month.
“We are the firewall. So this is why the lieutenant governor’s seat is so important,” Ayala told The 19th. “Choice is on the ballot this November.”
If Republicans are successful in the fall election, they could pass new laws restricting abortion in Virginia, something groups opposed to abortion would welcome, while Democrats are raising alarm.
Reproductive rights are especially relevant in the race for lieutenant governor, where the winner — either Republican Winsome Sears or Democrat Hala Ayala — would break potential tie votes on the issue in the closely divided state Senate.
“This Republican ticket has made it clear that, given the opportunity, they will restrict reproductive health care, which will disproportionately target Black and brown Virginians,” Ayala said at the news conference. “This is the arc of injustice right here. Winsome Sears wants to amplify inequities in our reproductive health care systems.”
Virginia Republican lieutenant gubernatorial nominee Winsome Sears said on Friday that she would support heartbeat abortion legislation amid the fallout over a Texas law that bans abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.
Ayala touted the importance of electing a lieutenant governor in favor of abortion rights in a statement on Saturday, citing the lieutenant governor's tiebreaking role in the state Senate, which is currently split 20-20.
"As Lieutenant Governor, I’ll never stop fighting to protect our fundamental rights," Ayala said. "Unfortunately, my opponent simply can’t say the same."
Republican lieutenant governor candidate Winsome Sears gave her full support for the new heartbeat abortion restriction in Texas and said she would support the same restriction here in Virginia. The comments came while Sears was being interviewed on a Newsmax talk show.
Democrats pushed back against the comments from Sears quickly. “We don’t need to guess what my opponent’s vigilante intentions are. She’ll come out and tell you!” Ayala said in a statement Saturday.
Ayala also tweeted the video of the interview from Sears. “When it comes to choice, our Virginia Senate is tied, and it’s never been more essential to have a pro-choice Democrat as our Lieutenant Governor,” she captioned the video, referencing the main role of the lieutenant governor as presiding over and breaking ties in the state Senate. “I will always vote to protect your right to make decisions about your body. Unfortunately, my opponent can’t say the same.”
The American Independent: Virginia lieutenant governor race could decide the fate of abortion rights in the state
A down-ballot race in Virginia could determine the future of abortion rights in the state.
Over the past two years, the Democratic majority has enacted pro-choice legislation with the current lieutenant governor (Democrat Justin Fairfax) breaking the tie and not all members of the Republican minority were present.
In an emailed statement, Lauren Chou, a spokesperson for Ayala, noted the stark difference between the two candidates, saying Sears had "made it exceedingly clear she’ll stop at nothing to strip individuals of their right to make decisions about their own bodies, which means it’s up to Virginia voters to stop her agenda."
"With Republicans across the country launching unprecedented attacks against Roe v. Wade, access to abortion, contraceptives, and reproductive health care are on the ballot in November, there's only one candidate for Lieutenant Governor who will fight for Virginians’ reproductive rights, and that's Delegate Hala Ayala."