Washington D.C., May 11, 2023 / 15:30 pm (CNA).
While many Republicans are backing a lawsuit to strike down the FDA’s approval of an abortion pill, Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares has refused to get involved and is instead defending a more moderate approach in the heavily divided swing state.
Miyares was one of a small number of Republican attorneys general who declined to sign onto a “friend of the court” brief in Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine v. FDA, which is asking the courts to suspend the agency’s approval of mifepristone. The lawsuit argues that the drug was invalidly approved in 2000 by alleging that the agency did not follow proper protocol.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Miyares defended his decision, saying that he is uncertain about whether the plaintiffs have standing to sue. He also noted that polling suggests Virginians are against banning abortions very early in pregnancy but do not support late-term abortions.
“The mainstream Democratic Party’s position right now is: anytime, anywhere up until the moment of birth after the gender reveal, paid for by taxpayers,” Miyares told the AP. “Most Virginians don’t support that, either.”
Miyares also told the AP that he supports Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s plan, which is to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Under current Virginia law, abortion is legal up to 25 weeks, which is one of the least restrictive standards in the country.
“I agree with the governor,” the attorney general said. “I think particularly in … a swing state like Virginia, that it’s important to try to find consensus. I think that’s what the governor is trying to do.”
Republicans introduced Youngkin’s 15-week ban in January, but the legislation failed to make it out of a Democrat-majority Senate committee. All nine Democrats voted against the bill, as did one Republican — Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant.
Dunnavant proposed legislation that would change the cutoff to the point of fetal viability, which could fall between 22 and 24 weeks, depending on the pregnancy. Viability would have been determined by a physician. This bill failed 9-6 with every Democrat voting against it.
Before the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, polling suggested that abortion was not a major issue for most voters. However, once the Supreme Court decision was overturned, abortion became one of the top issues for many voters.
In the 2022 midterm elections, Republicans failed to capitalize on high inflation and economic woes with a big electoral win, instead only gaining a small number of seats in the House of Representatives and losing a seat in the Senate. Many analysts and politicians, including former President Donald Trump, argued that abortion policy was a major factor.
Even in Republican states, voters shot down pro-life referendums. Proposed amendments in Kentucky and Kansas, which would have clarified that their state constitutions do not protect a right to an abortion, failed. In Kentucky, a pro-life measure failed by fewer than 5 percentage points, but in Kansas, it failed by more than 19 percentage points.
In Virginia, Republicans were able to flip one Congressional seat during the 2022 midterm elections with a candidate who supported a 15-week abortion cutoff, but in 2023, they lost a tight House of Delegates race with a candidate who supported the same restrictions.
Republicans only flipped one seat in Virginia’s Congressional delegation in 2022, in the 2nd congressional district. Rep. Jen Kiggans defeated former Rep. Elaine Luria in the swing district by more than 3 percentage points. She also campaigned on a 15-week cutoff for abortion.
Virginia held a special election to replace Kiggans’ former seat in the Virginia House of Delegates on Jan. 10. However, Democrats were able to narrowly flip that seat when now-Del. Aaron Rouse defeated Republican Kevin Adams. Rouse made his pro-abortion stance a major part of his campaign, while Adams supported a 15-week cutoff.
Every seat in the Virginia House of Delegates and Senate is up for election in November and Democrats have already begun airing pro-abortion ads. Republicans have a narrow majority in the House and Democrats have a narrow majority in the Senate.
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