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Vega's comments could be just the beginning of abortion debate for elections this fall

2022 Election Virginia
Steve Helber
Yesli Vega, left, speaks to supporters at a restaurant Wednesday June 22, 2022, in Woodbridge, Va. Vega will face Democrat Abigail Spanberger in the November election.

The conversation about abortion may end up being a major campaign issue this year. It's already taking center stage in one of Virginia's most competitive House races.

Republican congressional candidate Yesli Vega is facing some difficult questions after leaked audio in which she says she would not be surprised if a woman's body prevents pregnancies from rape. Vega is trying to unseat Democrat Abigail Spanberger in the 7th Congressional District.

Jamie Lockhart at Planned Parenthood says she was shocked when she heard the audio, which was published by Axios earlier this week.

"It's unbelievable," she says. "The disregard for basic science that pregnancy is not going to result in the same way from a rape is disturbing, inaccurate, dangerous, complete misinformation."

But, Victoria Cobb at the Family Foundation says where the candidates stand on abortion policy is much more important than an offhand comment in a leaked audio recording.

"Her voters want to know where does she stand on the extreme abortion policy we have here in Virginia and where does Congresswoman Spanberger stand on the issue of abortion," Cobb says. "That's what's going to guide their voting decisions. I don't think it's going to be a conversation about whether a rape is likely to result in a pregnancy."

In a written statement, Vega did not say whether she stands by her comments on the leaked audio recording. But, she did say that "liberals are desperate to distract from their failed agenda of record high gas and grocery prices and skyrocketing crime."

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.