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by Brandon Jarvis

Republican lieutenant governor candidate Winsome Sears gave her full support for the new heartbeat abortion restriction in Texas and said she would support the same restriction here in Virginia. The comments came while Sears was being interviewed on a Newsmax talk show. 

“What is your position when it comes to the pro-life issue? Will you be committed to support a heartbeat bill in Virginia?” the host asked Sears in an interview last week. “I can tell you that would be me, that I would support that,” Sears responded. “Because here’s the thing, when did it become the wrong thing for us to support the babies in the womb,” she continued. 

Sears then took it a step further and falsely stated that her Democratic opponent Hala Ayala and Governor Ralph Northam supported legislation that would leave babies on a table, without making them comfortable while waiting for the mother’s decision. This is not legal in Virginia and is far more extreme than the actual legislation that Sears is referencing from the 2019 legislative session. The unsuccessful 2019 bill would have reduced the number of doctors needed to sign off on a late-term abortion when the mother’s life is in jeopardy from three to one. It also would have allowed for second-trimester abortions to be performed in a clinic, instead of a hospital.

Virginia Democrats have been trying to tie Republicans to their counterparts in Texas since the new heartbeat restriction went into effect at the beginning of September. Republicans like gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin have been avoiding the topic mostly and pushing back by saying that Democratic views on abortion are too extreme for Virginians. 

Sears, however, took the issue head-on, herself. A spokesperson for the campaign walked back her Newsmax comments a bit, noting that Sears opposes abortion personally, but continued to say that Texas is different than Virginia making these questions hypothetical. “Winsome personally supports protecting life and the most vulnerable. She makes no apology for that,” said Mike Allers, a spokesman for Sears. “The truth is Texas questions are hypotheticals, and Texas is very different than Virginia. The real debate here in Virginia is about the bill Hala Ayala supported and co-sponsored to make abortion legal up until the moment of birth.”

Democrats pushed back against the comments from Sears quickly. “We don’t need to guess what my opponent’s vigilante intentions are. She’ll come out and tell you!” Ayala said in a statement Saturday. 

Ayala also tweeted the video of the interview from Sears. “When it comes to choice, our Virginia Senate is tied, and it’s never been more essential to have a pro-choice Democrat as our Lieutenant Governor,” she captioned the video, referencing the main role of the lieutenant governor as presiding over and breaking ties in the state Senate. “I will always vote to protect your right to make decisions about your body. Unfortunately, my opponent can’t say the same.”

Ayala leads Sears by one point according to the latest poll released from Monmouth University, but earlier polls showed with a larger lead. Virginia has shifted much more to the left these last five years and has not elected a statewide Republican since 2009, but Republicans are hopeful that eight years of Democratic wins and a Democratic White House will help them drive turnout to be competitive this November. 

In addition to the lieutenant governor race, the governor, attorney general, and all 100 House of Delegates seats are up for election. 

The election takes place on Nov. 2. Early absentee voting begins Sept. 17.

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By vascope