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Abortion is likely to be a top issue on the campaign trail this fall


Abortion rights are a top topic this year as voters head to the polls to select candidates for the Virginia General Assembly. Republicans are hoping to use the issue in one toss-up race.

Of the dozen races where Republicans are targeting Democrats running for the House of Delegates, only one so far is a race where Republicans have raised the issue of abortion rights — House District 97 in Virginia Beach. The House Republican Caucus says Democratic candidate Michael Feggans supports "elective abortion for any reason until the moment of birth." Feggans says that's not true.

"It's misleading. It's false. It's offensive, and it's dangerous. It's just not how simply medical care works," Feggans says. "And not only is it misleading and dangerous, it lacks compassion for families who have to make these serious and difficult decisions with their providers."

The Republican in the race is incumbent Delegate Karen Greenhalgh, who supports a 15-week ban. Feggans supports the current Virginia law, which protects abortion rights through the second trimester and requires three doctors to sign off on abortions in the third trimester.

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says Republicans are gambling with this line of attack.

"There are few things more risky in politics than choosing to talk about an issue that is a loser for your side," Farnsworth says. "Polls have consistently shown that Democrats have the advantage on the abortion question, and that advantage has gotten bigger in the wake of the decision by the Supreme Court to reverse Roe versus Wade."

Republicans are hoping the 15-week ban will resonate with voters, although Democrats say they're hearing on the campaign trail that protecting abortion rights is a top issue for many voters.

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.