Abortion debate makes appearance in Fairfax Co. special election

The debate over abortion in Virginia came through loud and clear Tuesday during a special election in Fairfax County, in which voters were choosing a candidate to replace Mark Keam, a longtime Democratic state delegate who resigned in September.

Democrat Holly Seibold and Republican Monique Baroudi are running for the chance to take Keam’s place representing the 35th District of the House of Delegates, including the areas of Tysons, Vienna, Dunn Loring and Oakton.

Keam stepped down to take a job in the Biden administration.

“I want Republicans to support the governor and his agenda,” said Bob Magneson, a voter in Vienna who supports Baroudi.

Magneson said he backed Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s call for a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“I believe that a baby is a person,” Magneson said. “It is an individual and you are killing an individual.”

A Vienna voter on the Democratic side, who did not want to be identified by name, said the issue of abortion was on her mind when she went out to the polls to cast a ballot for Seibold.

“It’s important to me because I think it’s my right to get an abortion if I want to,” she said. “I would like to keep that right.”

In a previous interview with WTOP, Youngkin said he was “cautiously optimistic” about getting abortion restrictions passed in the upcoming legislative session, which starts on Wednesday.

But it won’t be easy to pass such a bill in Virginia’s divided government, with Republicans controlling the House of Delegates and Democrats in control of the Senate.

Following the Supreme Court ruling that overturned the constitutional right to an abortion last year, Youngkin called together a group of Republican lawmakers to start work on legislation that would limit abortion access.

“I’m encouraged by the work that our leading legislators have made, and I do hope they can deliver a bill to my desk that would, in fact, restrict abortion after 15 weeks,” Youngkin said.

Youngkin added that there would be exceptions in cases of “rape and incest and when the life of the mother is at risk.”

“Virginians want fewer abortions, not more, and I think this is a good place for Virginia to land,” Youngkin added.

Abortion is currently legal in Virginia through the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, which is about 26 weeks. Pregnant mothers can still get an abortion in the third trimester, but they need three doctors to sign off, saying that their health is at risk.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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