Ed Gillespie, Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate, Wants Abortion 'Banned'

Protecting life is the "central role of government," he said. Leading Democratic candidates support abortion rights.

WASHINGTON ― Ed Gillespie, the leading Republican candidate for Virginia governor, said he would like to see abortion “banned.”

“I would like to see abortion be banned because I think it is a taking of an innocent human life,” Gillespie said in a GOP primary debate over the weekend. “It is not the law of the land today.”

Gillespie, former chair of the Republican National Committee and adviser to President George W. Bush, said he supports exceptions for rape, incest, and the life of the mother, but believes the “central role of government is the protection of innocent human life.” He said he would sign bills banning abortion at 20 weeks of pregnancy and support so-called “TRAP” laws ― the kind of strict building regulations on abortion clinics that have forced half of them to shut down in Texas.

Gillespie’s views on abortion sharply contrast with those of current Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), who helped overturn TRAP regulations in Virginia and vetoed a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in February. Virginia term limits don’t allow McAuliffe to seek re-election.

The leading Democrats in Virginia’s gubernatorial race, former Rep. Tom Perriello and Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, both support abortion rights. NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsed Northam in the Democratic primary, and Perriello wrote an impassioned Facebook post in January vowing to “be a staunch and committed defender of reproductive autonomy.”

“As Governor, I will work to roll back harmful restrictions on the right to choose and on abortion providers here in Virginia, oppose a 20-week abortion ban, make contraception more readily available, and ensure abortion care is safe, compassionate and accessible for women when they need it,” Perriello wrote.

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