Virginia Gubernatorial Candidates Fight Over Abortion in Debate

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 19, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidates Fight Over Abortion in Debate Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 19, 2005

Richmond, VA ( — Abortion has become one of the more divisive issues in the campaign for governor in Virginia. In their first debate, pro-life Republican Jerry Kilgore and pro-abortion Democrat Tim Kaine sparred about a number of issues, including abortion.

Kaine, the lieutenant governor, claimed in the Saturday debate that he opposes abortion but added that he would veto any legislation in Virginia that would prohibit abortions if the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized them.

"I think there is common ground on this issue because Virginians want to reduce abortion. I’ve not met a single person in Virginia who wants to increase abortion,” Kaine said, according to an AP report. "What we don’t need to do in Virginia is criminalize the health care decisions of women and their doctors.”

Kilgore, the former state attorney general, has long supported pro-life legislation and enjoys the backing of pro-life groups. He said the question was "total speculation" because the Supreme Court is still two votes away from being able to overturn Roe.

Virginia Democrats, after the debate, say Kilgore dodged the question.

Kilgore campaign spokesman Tucker Martin, however, said his candidate’s position on abortion has always been clear.

"What you’re talking about here is a hypothetical bill based on a hypothetical court ruling made by hypothetical justices," Martin told the Augusta Free Press.

"The fact is that Jerry Kilgore has always been consistent in his position on abortion," Martin explained. "The fact is, on this issue, you know where Jerry Kilgore stands. He is consistent. He is pro-life. Tim Kaine is the one with the abortion problem. No one knows what he believes, because he intentionally tells different people different things," Martin said.

National Right to Life endorsed Kilgore in June because of his history championing pro-life legislation.

"The endorsement reflects our appreciation for the strong stand Jerry Kilgore has taken on behalf of those members of our human family who are least able to protect themselves," NRLC political director Carol Tobias said.

"He has stood in defense of both unborn children and the medically disabled whose lives are threatened by abortion or euthanasia," she added.

As Virginia’s attorney general, Kilgore promoted legislation to protect pregnant women and their unborn children who are victims of violence. Criminals who attack a pregnant woman and kill or injure her baby can be charged with two crimes under the law.

Kilgore also staunchly defended a state law banning partial-birth abortions.

Republican State Sen. Russ Potts is also running in the gubernatorial contest, as an independent. Potts favors abortion and has frequently held up pro-life legislation in the state Senate.