Virginia GOP lt. gov. nominee says she would support heartbeat abortion legislation

Virginia Republican lieutenant gubernatorial nominee Winsome Sears said on Friday that she would support heartbeat abortion legislation amid the fallout over a Texas law that bans abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. 

"Well, I can tell you that would be me, that I would support [it]," Sears told Newsmax on Friday.

The comments come as Virginia Democrats have gone on the offensive on abortion, citing the recently passed Texas abortion law that would restrict abortion as early as the sixth week of pregnancy, when many women don’t know they’re pregnant.

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Sears's campaign said in a statement to The Hill that the law passed in Texas would not pass in Virginia's General Assembly. 

"While Winsome personally supports protecting life and the most vulnerable, as a former legislator herself she also recognizes that Virginia is very different from Texas, and that legislation could never have the votes to pass the Virginia General Assembly," the campaign said. 
 
A spokesperson for Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin said the campaign agrees with the assessment from the Sears campaign, adding that "the Virginia legislature is very different than the Texas legislature." 
 
Republicans have hit back at Democrats on abortion, citing 2019 comments from Gov. Ralph Northam (D) in which he was asked about state legislation that would relax restrictions on third-trimester abortions.  Northam said that third-term abortions are rare and typically occur when an infant is severely deformed or unable to survive after birth. Virginia House Republicans ended up tabling the legislation.

Sears tied her opponent, state Del. Hala Ayala (D), to Northam’s comments.

“Here’s the thing,” Sears said. “When did it become the wrong thing for us to support the babies in the womb? And in fact, in Virginia, we’ve even gone further than that, where our current governor wanted to take us — and, by the way, my opponent wanted to take us — there, where the baby would be born, you would leave the baby on the table without any assistance or even keep it comfortable, and then wait for the mother to decide.”

Ayala touted the importance of electing a lieutenant governor in favor of abortion rights in a statement on Saturday, citing the lieutenant governor's tiebreaking role in the state Senate, which is currently split 20-20. 

"As Lieutenant Governor, I’ll never stop fighting to protect our fundamental rights," Ayala said. "Unfortunately, my opponent simply can’t say the same."

Youngkin has not said definitively whether he supports the Texas law but noted in comments this week that he would support abortion in cases of rape or incest, which differs from the Texas law. 

“My biggest concern when it comes to abortion in Virginia is my opponent’s extreme views where he actually advocates for taxpayer abortion that would actually be available all the way up through and including birth,” Youngkin said. 

"I'm pro-life. I've said it from the beginning of this campaign," he said. "I believe in exceptions in the case of rape, in the case of incest and in the case where the mother's life is in jeopardy."