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VA state House candidate Lee Peters cites false data in saying he'd vote for abortion ban

Virginia House of Delegates GOP nominee Peters said incorrectly that a 15-week abortion ban is widely popular in the commonwealth.

By Josh Israel - September 15, 2023
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Lee Peters
Lee Peters, a Republican nominee for the Virginia House of Delegates, speaks during a campaign stop, Aug. 31, 2023. (Photo credit: Lee Peters for Delegate/Facebook)

Republican Lee Peters, his party’s nominee for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates, said on Wednesday that if he were elected, he would vote for a 15-week ban on the procedure, claiming that a new ban would be “a solution that works for everyone” and that a 15-week abortion ban is widely popular among voters.

Peters is running against Democratic former Del. Joshua Cole in the competitive 65th House District, representing Fredericksburg and surrounding counties, in November’s legislative elections. The winner of the seat will help determine party control in the General Assembly. Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin has promised that if Republicans win majorities in the state House and Senate, he will push for a ban on nearly all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy; he said he will “happily and gleefully” sign any abortion restrictions that reach his desk. Virginia is the only state left in the South without an abortion ban.

Peters, who makes no mention of his positions on reproductive rights on his campaign website issues page, was asked at a candidate debate to explain his position on abortion.

In a lengthy answer, Peters said:

If it weren’t for politics, I would never give a position on this. But what I can tell you is, when we look at this very personal decision that women have to make, we cannot go to extremes. You can’t say that this is the answer and this is the answer. Sixty-one percent of Virginians, 61% of people in our region, have said that they’ll support the 15-week limit. Now — with other things attached for women’s health, things like that. So I will support the 15-week term limit, because it’s the best compromise that we have, so far, to come out of both sides. … And my job, if you hire me for this job, is to take what you say to Richmond. So if 61% of people are saying that we will support the 15-week limit, that’s my position, because it has to be. You all are giving us the numbers that you want, you’re giving us information, and I know it’s a very, very personal issue, an issue that should never come out of the room with a doctor, a mom and dad. But we’ve made it a public issue and we have to find a solution that works for everyone. So that 15 weeks that we’re going around, if 61% of people are saying it’s good, that would be my position.

Public polling does not support his claims. A Washington Post-Schar School poll taken in March found that just 17% of Virginia voters want stricter abortion limits. A total of 75% percent said either they wanted to keep the laws as they are (34%) or make them less strict (41%).

The Republican research firm Founders Insight released a poll in August showing 38% of Virginia voters want to keep the status quo and 16% want to eliminate all restrictions.

A Peters campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an American Independent Foundation inquiry for this story.

Cole has defended the right to choose. When asked about the most pressing issue facing the General Assembly in 2024, he answered that it is “absolutely women’s rights and making sure that Virginia does not become another place in the South where women do not have their own decision-making. I also believe that the number one decision that the General Assembly needs to do is enshrine Roe v. Wade in the state Constitution.”

Peters responded: “Everybody is not concerned or worried about women’s rights, even though there are many, many women who are. Some people worry about public safety. Some people worry about their schools.” He did not offer his own top priority, insisting that the voters should get to decide what pressing issues should be addressed.

After the debate, Cole said in a press release: “We finally know where Lee Peters stands: he wants to criminalize a decision that should be between a woman and her doctor. I’m running to stop Lee Peters’ and the MAGA Republicans’ attack on women’s rights. We will not move Virginia backwards.”

Peters is one of several Republicans running in Virginia swing districts who are not being clear with voters about their reproductive rights positions.

In recent weeks, House nominees David Owen and John Stirrup have been surreptitiously recorded backing abortion bans, though neither says anything about the topic on his website.

Republican Senate nominee Juan Pablo Segura also omitted his anti-abortion position from his campaign website. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported in July that Segura had endorsed a 15-week ban as a “reasoned proposal.”

In August, state Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant posted a “Setting the Record Straight: Abortion” page on her campaign site in which she claimed that a 15-week abortion ban is not really a ban, “but legislation that reflects compassionate common sense.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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