Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia on Thursday officially endorsed Democratic candidate Ralph Northam in the state’s highly contested gubernatorial race.
Planned Parenthood Virginia’s PAC also announced it would be spending $3 million on canvassing, online and mail efforts.
Abortion has proven to be a hot-button issue in the state, with a sitting Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled state legislature.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed a GOP-backed bill that would have prevented the state’s health department from offering grants to organizations that cover abortions, with the exception of hospitals.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie said in April he would like to see abortion banned.
The candidate has, however, made exceptions for cases of when the mother’s life is in jeopardy, rape and incest.
Democrats and allies of Northam have promoted a video posted on Thursday showing Gillespie saying he “would sign a bill that does not have taxpayer funding go to Planned Parenthood.”
Gillespie campaign spokesman Dave Abrams told The Hill in a statement that the GOP candidate does not support subsidizing Planned Parenthood's budget with taxpayer funds.
"It's no surprise that Planned Parenthood would spend millions of dollars on Ralph Northam's behalf, given his extreme positions like supporting abortions in the eighth or ninth month or just because the unborn child is a girl. Most of Planned Parenthood's funding comes from individual donors, and Ed does not support subsidizing their budget with taxpayer dollars," he said.
Planned Parenthood criticized Gillespie's comments in the video posted Thursday, saying: “A Governor Gillespie would mean four years of dangerous attacks against the essential health care women in Virginia rely on.”
“Gillespie's plan could take away birth control, life saving cancer screenings, and HIV testing for the over 23,000 Virginians who depend on Planned Parenthood,” Jennifer Allen, CEO of Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC and Planned Parenthood Virginia Advocates, said in a statement.
The organization’s involvement comes amid a tightening race.
A July Monmouth University poll found the two candidates polling neck and neck at 44 percent.
The Planned Parenthood endorsement was first reported by Politico.
Updated: 1:16 p.m.