Ken Cuccinelli and the Pro-Life Judo Flip

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
April 23 2013 2:02 PM

Ken Cuccinelli and the Pro-Life Judo Flip

Pro-life politicians have talked all year about flipping the script on Democrats and making them struggle to explain their abortion stances. To a very large extent, that was the point of the campaign to spur more coverage of Kermit Gosnell's murder trial in Philadelphia. Why should Todd Akin have to answer a hypothetical question about the ugly aspects of banning abortion? Make Democrats answer hypotheticals about the ugliest aspects of legalization.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

And lo and behold, here comes a radio ad from Women Speak Out Virginia, a state offshoot of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List PAC.

In the race for Governor…there’s one candidate who has taken extreme positions far outside the mainstream….one candidate whose radical ideas are troubling to every woman in Virginia.
It’s Terry McAuliffe.
Just this month Terry McAuliffe opposed basic health and safety standards for some women’s health clinics that perform abortions.
McAuliffe refuses to require women’s health clinics to provide the same sanitary environment we expect of dental offices and hospitals.
McAuliffe is bowing to the political pressure from powerful corporations that run women’s health clinics.
They must think they are above the law. They put their own interests above the health of safety of their patients.
Virginia women’s clinics have been cited for unsanitary conditions, poor staff training, and poorly maintained equipment.
But Terry McAuliffe is afraid to stand up for women’s health. He’s afraid to stand up for you.
Career politician Terry McAuliffe is too extreme for Virginia.

The "basic health and safety standards" in question here were part of a so-called "TRAP law," covered thoroughly last year by my colleague Dahlia Lithwick. There was more to the bill than standards. The standards were clearly intended to make it increasingly difficult for small abortion clinics to function, because they couldn't be rebuilt to match the standards of hospitals. It's a compelling little message switcharoo, isn't it?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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