The Bulletin

Youngkin attends Virginia March for Life in nod to anti-abortion voters

By: - April 27, 2022 2:52 pm

Gov. Glenn Youngkin attended Virginia’s fourth March for Life, an annual anti-abortion event held outside the Capitol, on April 27, 2022. (Kate Masters/ Virginia Mercury)

Attendees at Virginia’s fourth March for Life were joined by an unexpected participant on Wednesday — Gov. Glenn Youngkin, who announced plans to join just a day before the annual anti-abortion event.

“I’m the governor and I’m pro-life, so it wasn’t a hard decision,” he told a reporter in response to one of a few questions he took from media covering the march. While Youngkin himself wasn’t a speaker, his attendance was a nod to conservative voters after distancing himself from the issue at a key stage of his campaign. Shortly after winning the election, he told The Washington Post that antiabortion legislation wouldn’t be on his “day one agenda.”

So far, the governor’s legislative priorities have largely focused on campaign promises to ban “inherently divisive concepts” in public education and expand charter schools —  initiatives that have faltered in the state’s Democrat-controlled Senate. But he’s taken a more aggressive pro-life stance through executive actions, including appointing a new diversity officer whose job description includes serving as an “ambassador for unborn children.”

Laura Belchak, who attended the march in a Youngkin campaign T-shirt, cited the appointment as one example of the governor’s support for the pro-life movement. Youngkin has also publicly supported what’s known as a “pain threshold bill,” legislation that would ban most abortions after 20 weeks with exceptions in cases of rape, incest or pregnancies that endanger the life of the person giving birth, he’s said.

“I think that’s a big move for a governor to do,” Belchak said. “Obviously it’s not solely up to him — it’s also the legislature. So I know we’re also looking forward to picking up seats in the Senate.”

Youngkin wasn’t the only member of his administration to attend the event. D.J. Jordan, the chief of staff for Attorney General Jason Miyares, was in the audience, and Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears spoke at a rally before the march. She described abortion as “wicked,” seemingly attempting to tie the issue to a renewed focus on racial disparities.

“If I put in a bill today and the bill said ‘Abortion is only allowed in Virginia if you are a Black woman’ — only Black women could get an abortion, no one else — you know what we would say to ourselves?” Spears said. “We’d say, ‘Wait a minute, why are they trying to kill all the Black babies?’”

“You see?” she continued. “Then it comes home to us that abortion is wicked. That’s how we know.”

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Kate Masters
Kate Masters

Kate grew up in Northern Virginia before moving to the Midwest, earning her degree in journalism from the University of Missouri. She spent a year covering gun violence and public health for The Trace in Boston before joining The Frederick News-Post in Frederick County, Md. Before joining the Mercury in 2020, she covered state and county politics for the Bethesda Beat in Montgomery County, Md. She was named Virginia's outstanding young journalist for 2021 by the Virginia Press Association.