'Extreme Abortion Ban' Would Follow GOP Win in Virginia Election, Says Terry McAuliffe's AG

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, warned Saturday that an "extreme" abortion ban would happen if Republicans are elected as governor and attorney general in the Old Dominion next month.

"A Republican Governor in Virginia would sign an extreme abortion ban and a Republican AG would enforce it," Herring wrote in a tweet Saturday. "This election will come down to voter turnout and we must vote like our rights depend on it."

A Republican Governor in Virginia would sign an extreme abortion ban and a Republican AG would enforce it.

This election will come down to voter turnout and we must vote like our rights depend on it.

— Mark Herring (@MarkHerringVA) October 16, 2021

Abortion access has become a central issue in Virginia elections following Texas' recent abortion ban. Herring and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe—who previously served as the state's governor from 2014 to 2018—have sought to paint GOP candidates Glenn Youngkin and Jason Miyares, who are running for governor and attorney general respectively, as extremists who would enact a similar ban.

Youngkin—who is anti-abortion but supports exceptions for rape, incest and to save a mother's life—has said he would not have signed the Texas ban. However, he indicated his support for a "pain threshold bill."

"We can sit down and write legislation together. What I have said is that I do believe that a pain threshold bill, legislation, would be appropriate," he said during a debate in September.

Still, he has embraced the endorsement of the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that has advocated against reproductive rights.

"As the next Governor of Virginia, I will proudly stand up for the unborn and their mothers," Youngkin wrote in a letter to "pro-life" advocates. "I believe life begins at conception. My views are formed not only by my faith, but by science as well."

McAuliffe has described himself as a "brick wall" protecting abortion rights in the Old Dominion. During the same debate, he pledged to loosen a requirement that three doctors have to sign off on the procedure, calling it an issue of fairness for rural women, the Associated Press reported.

GOP attorney general candidate Jason Miyares has also said that while he is anti-abortion, he would not have supported Texas' latest law.

"As I've said before that I would not have voted for the Texas bill it had no exceptions and separate from that and created a brand-new private cause of action that was completely unworkable," he said during a debate, WSLS-TV reported.

Long seen as a Republican state before President Barack Obama's 2008 victory, Virginia has become increasingly Democratic in the past few years due to leftward suburban shifts. In 2013, McAuliffe and Herring also ran for office—both winning by narrow margins.

Despite the state growing blue, polls indicate that statewide races will be competitive next month.

In the gubernatorial contest, McAuliffe has held a narrow yet consistent lead in most polls. A CBS poll from October 4 to 11 showed McAuliffe leading with 50 percent, compared to Youngkin's 47 percent. Similarly, a Fox News poll from October 10 to 13 showed McAuliffe leading by five points among likely voters.

Herring, who had served under McAuliffe when the latter was previously governor, appears to hold a slightly larger lead. A September Emerson College poll found him leading Miyares by about six points. He was reelected in 2017 with 53 percent of the vote.

The election is expected to be closer than when Democrats dominated state elections in 2020. Both Biden and Virginia Senator Mark Warner were elected by more than 10 points, and Democrats won seven of the 11 congressional districts—including three suburban seats they flipped in 2018.

Newsweek reached out to both Youngkin and Miyares' campaigns for comment Saturday afternoon but had not heard back by publication. This story will be updated with any response.

AG Mark Herring
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat, warned that GOP victories in the state could lead to an “extreme” abortion ban. Here, he is seen speaking in Richmond in June 2020. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images