HomePoliticsDemocrats, Republicans release dueling abortion ads in high-stakes Virginia electionsDemocrats, Republicans release dueling abortion ads in high-stakes Virginia electionsFri, September 29, 2023 by ABC NewsSHARE NOW Andy Clement - andyc.com/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Democrats and Republicans in the state are ramping up their attacks ahead of high stakes state-wide elections in Virginia, releasing dueling ads about abortion — a hot-button issues at the center of nearly every race in both the GOP-led state House and the Democratic-controlled state Senate.Last week, Virginia Republicans ran an ad titled “No Limits” accusing Democrats of fighting to make late-term abortions “the rule and not the exception,” while Democrats released a number of ads across the state this week warning Republicans would ban abortion if they take full control of the General Assembly.Virginia is currently the southernmost state that hasn’t banned or restricted abortion since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.Political science experts told ABC News that while Republicans in the state refrained from campaigning on the issue of abortion last year and much of this campaign season, they are joining in now to mobilize Republican voters.“While Dobbs served Republicans well, they lost the messaging enemy in Roe that had been successful for them,” Dr. Chapman Rackaway, a professor and Chair of Political Science at Radford University. “The inverse happened for Democrats. Dobbs gave them a threat on which they could message, and they did so aggressively in 2022.”“From the newly-released ads, it looks like Republicans believe that using the extremist tag on Democrats is the messaging on which they can mobilize,” Rackaway added.Activists who oppose abortion told ABC News that Republicans in the state are backing Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s stance on abortion — a 15-week ban with exceptions.“In 2022 with the midterm elections, Republicans used the ostrich strategy … kind of burying your head in the sand and hoping the issue goes away,” said Billy Valentine, the vice president of Political Affairs for Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. “Looking ahead to Virginia, I think the party has recognized that strategy didn’t work. We need to find where we stand and contrast that with the Democrats.”Valentine told ABC News that he believes Democrats in the state are trying to misrepresent Republican candidates’ stance on abortion by saying they would ban abortion without exception, pointing to several recent ads from Democratic candidates.“It’s incumbent on our candidates to tell the truth, which is what we are advocating for, is a 15-week limit, not a ban because it has exceptions for life of the mother, rape, and incest,” he said.Republicans in the state say Democrats are putting out “misrepresentations and half truths” about several Republican candidates’ stance on abortion.“This is out of character even for them,” said Garren Shipley, director of communications for Republican House Speaker Todd Gilbert. “They’re our caucus and our candidates. We’re behind the governor on the 15-week limit with common sense exceptions.”Meanwhile, Democrats in the state say their ads are informing voters that the Virginia GOP will ban abortion if they take full control of the General Assembly.“This is nothing more than the Governor’s handlers trying to correct a narrative that their candidates themselves have been pushing,” said House Democratic Caucus Leader Don Scott.“Just this year Republicans introduced life at conception bills, banning all abortions at the moment of fertilization and criminalizing anyone who performs the procedure,” Scott said. “No matter how they try to dress it up, if something is legal today, and a law changes making it illegal tomorrow, then that’s a ban. There’s no lies about that.”Virginia Democratic Party Chairwoman Susan Swecker echoed Scott’s concerns that Republicans will increase restrictions on abortion.“Anyone who has looked at Republicans’ records knows that Youngkin and the MAGA extremists who are running to control the General Assembly want to ban abortion immediately and will increase the restrictions every chance they get,” Swecker said in a statement. “They’ll overturn our rights and then keep taking more.”In the highly competitive Fredericksburg-area state Senate race, Republicans criticized Democrats for releasing an ad about Republican candidate Tara Durant who is running against Joel Griffin, the Democratic nominee.The ad published by Griffin’s campaign said Durant supports letting Virginia ban abortions without exception.“Virginia Democrats are reverting to their tired tactics of overt falsehoods and flagrant fear mongering,” said Dave Rexrode, Youngkin’s political adviser and chairman of his PAC, Spirit of Virginia.“Joel Griffin’s ad is just the latest desperate and despicable attempt to mislead voters. It will not work,” Rexrode added in a press release.Griffin’s campaign defended the ad, saying Durant publicly praised the overturning of Roe v. Wade.“While we watched the legal landscape shift, Durant reaffirmed where she was on abortion rights, sending a mailer stating her 100% pro life stance,” a spokesperson for Griffin’s campaign told ABC News. “The stakes are clear: If elected, Tara Durant would let Virginia ban abortions with no exceptions.”On Tuesday, Durant responded to Griffin’s ad, calling it “misinformation” and doubled down on her support for a 15-week limit on abortion . Control of both chambers of the General Assembly is up for grabs, with several political experts indicating that the results could be viewed as a referendum on Youngkin given his successful push for his preferred candidates to win their primary races earlier this year.Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.