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NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene: Why We Support Senator Jennifer McClellan for Governor

"Endorsing Senator Jennifer McClellan was an easy and obvious choice"

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By Tarina Keene, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia

Virginia’s political landscape has transformed from a solidly anti-abortion, conservative stronghold to a pro-reproductive freedom majority in less than a decade. Research shows that 79% of Virginians support Roe v. Wade and do not want politicians interfering in a person’s private medical decisions. Furthermore, reproductive rights have consistently ranked in the top three issues Virginians vote on over that same period of time.

But in the four Democratic Gubernatorial Primary debates this spring, not one question about abortion was asked. Not even after the U.S. Supreme Court announced on May 17th that it would hear a Mississippi abortion ban case that it has been sitting on for the last two years.  Pundits and movement insiders call it a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade, which is precisely what it is.

This is why Virginia must be ready when Roe falls. This is why we need Senator Jennifer McClellan to be the Commonwealth’s next governor.

There is a crowded field of reproductive freedom champions this year across the statewide races. But what you did not get to hear in the debates is that one candidate stands out. Jennifer McClellan is a champion amongst champions.

Throughout her 15-year legislative career, Senator McClellan has made protecting and advancing reproductive freedom one of her top legislative priorities, even when her party was in the minority. In 2020, when the Democrats flipped the House and Senate, she was ready and led the charge to pass the first abortion rights legislation ever to become law in Virginia and the South.   Her landmark, game-changing legislation known as the Reproductive Health Protection Act rolled back five of the most egregious barriers to abortion care access in Virginia, including the mandatory ultrasound, 24-hour waiting period, and the medically unnecessary regulatory scheme aimed at shuttering abortion providers.

 

This year she was back at it and got bipartisan support in rolling back the ban on abortion coverage on the state’s healthcare exchange. Her unrelenting work is helping to establish Virginia as a safe haven for abortion access should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

These are only two examples of her multiple legislative successes and fierce leadership on groundbreaking progressive legislation, including making Virginia the first state to pass a Voting Rights Act. Her record proves that she not only has the ability to pass impactful legislation but has the respect of our colleagues on both sides of the aisle. Her work is a testament to who she is – a driven fighter for Virginia’s most marginalized communities.

Endorsing Senator Jennifer McClellan was an easy and obvious choice. She is sincere, genuine, and humble despite her many successes. You do not find people like her very often in politics. She leans into her values and principles and does not run away when things get tough as they often do in the fight for reproductive rights.

Senator Jennifer McClellan is by far the most experienced and qualified to be the Commonwealth’s next leader, and as Virginia’s and the nation’s first Black woman governor, she would bring a much-needed perspective to the executive branch.

There is a rough road ahead for reproductive freedom in this country. We need a bold, proven, progressive leader to lead the Commonwealth through whatever comes next. We believe that leader is Jennifer McClellan, who has an unparalleled track record fighting for reproductive freedom. We believe she is the candidate with the best shot of defeating anti-choice Republican Glenn Youngkin in November.

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