Virginia is currently in the middle of a highly contested governor’s race, with many polls saying that the race between Terry McAuliffe of the Democratic Party and Glenn Youngkin of the Republican Party is within the margin of error.
This is a competitive race where both candidates have a significant chance of winning. Currently there are two major issues that both candidates can gain and lose voters on: COVID-19 and abortion. While McAuliffe has solid positions and policies on both issues, Youngkin’s positions leave much to be desired and are objectively dangerous to Virginians.
One of the biggest issues in the governor’s race is how each candidate will respond to the pandemic.
In an official statement, Youngkin said, “We must respect parents’ right to decide what is best for their own children. If parents, teachers and children want to wear a mask, they absolutely should do that, but there should not be a statewide school mask mandate.” He has also repeatedly expressed his objection to vaccine passports and vaccine mandates.
This contrasts with McAuliffe, who said in a statement that he “believes everyone should follow CDC guidelines in wearing masks and getting vaccinated.”
According to current CDC guidelines, “If you are not fully vaccinated and aged two or older, you should wear a mask in indoor public places.” This is one of the main reasons why masks have been mandated in public schools in Virginia; only those who are 12 and older can receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Thus, masks help protect everyone who cannot get vaccinated.
Youngkin’s belief that parents should decide if their children wear masks or not in schools is dangerous because it has been proven that mask-wearing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
By opposing mask mandates in schools, Youngkin deliberately puts children and faculty at risk in order to appeal to voters instead of following medical experts. He also opposes mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations among all citizens in Virginia. Because Youngkin is unwilling to motivate citizens to get vaccinated, he is complicit in the spread of COVID-19. While Youngkin does encourage individuals to get vaccinated, encouragement is not enough at this point in the COVID-19 pandemic, and he should be doing more.
Another major issue in the governor’s race is abortion.
Abortion has always been a hot-button issue, with Republican candidates usually being “pro-life” and Democratic candidates commonly being “pro-choice.” However, with the recent passing of an anti-abortion law that effectively criminalizes all forms of abortion after six weeks of pregnancy in Texas, and similar bills being considered across the country, the candidates’ stances on abortion are more important than ever.
McAuliffe has publicly stated that he would pass an amendment to officially put the protections set by Roe v. Wade into Virginia law, while Youngkin has publicly claimed that he is “unabashedly pro-life.”
Youngkin also stated in an undercover video, “When I’m governor, and I have a majority in the House, we can start going on offense,” after being asked if he would “take it to the abortionists.” If Youngkin were to “start going on offense” against abortion in Virginia and pass a similar bill to the Senate Bill 8 in Texas, the results could be deadly.
An official CDC study from 1976 found that deaths related to abortion dropped from 39 in 1972 to three in 1975 after the passing of Roe v. Wade. Additionally, the study showed a decrease in illegal abortions from 130,000 to 17,000 in the same time period.
The data shows that when abortion access is restricted, abortions become much more dangerous, as they are performed in homes and without proper medical supervision. If Youngkin is elected, access to abortion will potentially become more restricted and, as a result, more deadly.
Overall, Youngkin has taken a dangerous position regarding COVID-19 with a clear rejection of CDC guidelines related to masks and vaccination. His position on abortion could potentially lead to increasingly dangerous abortions here in Virginia. If he is elected governor, then Virginia could become the next Texas regarding both COVID-19 cases and abortion law. The choice is clear, UMW: vote for Terry McAuliffe.