As his gubernatorial campaign flounders, Ken Cuccinelli is desperately trying to mislead Virginia women about his dangerous agenda for their health, which would deny us access to quality affordable health care and interfere in our most personal health care decisions. At the University of Richmond gubernatorial candidate forum, Cuccinelli attempted to muddy the waters yet again by hiding his extreme and long-held opposition to safe and legal abortion, even in the cases of rape, incest, or to protect the health of the woman. But we aren’t fooled and Virginia voters shouldn’t be either because his record on women’s health is clear, it is extreme, and it is costing him among women voters.
Polls consistently show Terry McAuliffe leading Ken Cuccinelli among women voters by widening margins, and a recently published poll shows that 33 percent of women think the GOP is drifting further away from supporting the issues important to them. With the GOP working hard to elect extreme and out-of-touch politicians like Ken Cuccinelli, it is not hard to see why.
Ken Cuccinelli has waged a crusade against women’s health throughout his career — as a state senator, he even touted himself as the “most aggressive pro-life leader.” When legislation came up clarifying that birth control was not a form of an abortion, Cuccinelli voted against it — twice. Cuccinelli co-sponsored extreme and dangerous so-called “personhood” legislation with his running mate, attorney general candidate Mark Obenshain. If enacted, this legislation could have interfered with a woman’s personal, private medical decisions relating to birth control, access to fertility treatment, management of a miscarriage, and access to safe and legal abortion. He made defunding Planned Parenthood a top priority by offering budget amendments that would have cut off Virginia women from Planned Parenthood’s preventive health services like birth control and lifesaving cancer screenings.
His crusade against women’s health and rights intensified when he became attorney general. Ken Cuccinelli bullied a Virginia medical board into passing targeted restrictions on abortion providers that have already forced two women’s health centers that provided a wide-range of preventive services to shut their doors. Cuccinelli was the first attorney general to file suit against the Affordable Care Act, just minutes after it was signed into law. The new health care law has already benefited around 765,000 women in Virginia who now have access to birth control and other basic health care without deductibles or copays, but Ken Cuccinelli still opposes it. And Cuccinelli was one of only three state attorneys general who refused to support the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.
Beyond Cuccinelli’s terrible record on women’s health, the agenda he has outlined is just as extreme and alarming. Ken Cuccinelli has offensively compared his ideological crusade to restrict access to safe and legal abortion to the fight against slavery, has suggested people should be willing to “go to jail” to fight expanding access to affordable birth control, and has said that his “ultimate goal” is to end safe and legal abortion in America.
Despite what Cuccinelli may claim, his record on women’s health is clear, and it is far outside the mainstream. He has spent his entire career on an ideological crusade to limit Virginia women’s access to health care. So as Ken Cuccinelli tries to muddy the waters on his record and agenda for women’s health, we will continue to let Virginia voters know the truth about Ken Cuccinelli.
Cianti Stewart-Reid is executive director of Planned Parenthood Virginia PAC.