In his campaign for governor, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli appears to be channeling Mitt Romney on the issue of birth control.
Cuccinelli told voters at an Ashburn, Va., campaign event on Tuesday that he "[doesn't] think government should be doing anything about birth control."
"I’m not going to touch contraception as governor," he said at the event.
Then, on Wednesday, Cuccinelli doubled down on his remarks. “I have a flat position: I’m not touching contraception while I’m governor,” the candidate told The Washington Post. He added that if the state legislature did send him a personhood bill, he would remove anything that could be construed to affect contraception. “I’d amend it out of the bill,” he said. “And the governor gets the last shot.”
Despite what may seem to be a clear stance, it's not apparent Cuccinelli is entirely clear on how he defines contraception. In 2007, he sponsored a bill that would give legal rights to embryos from the moment of fertilization, which would prohibit of any form of contraception (likely including IUDs) that could block a fertilized egg from implanting into the uterus. And in 2003, he urged his colleagues to vote against a bill establishing that contraception is different from abortion.
Cuccinelli wrote in a 2003 email to colleagues that he doesn't consider emergency contraception, or the morning-after pill, to be a form of birth control:
One particularly troublesome bill escaped the Senate today on a 24-16 vote. That was Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple’s redefinition of “contraception” as “not abortion” (SB 1104). Sounds simple enough, right? But her bill actually twists the definition in such a way that clears the way for “the morning after pill” or “emergency contraception.” These are abortion methods, not contraception. I am hopeful that this bill will be killed in the House of Delegates.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, similarly, called emergency contraceptives "abortive pills" on the campaign trail in 2012.
The assertion is not supported by science. Medical experts consider emergency contraception a regular form of birth control because it delays ovulation and prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg, thus preventing a pregnancy. The FDA recently approved the sale of the morning-after pill over the counter without age restrictions, unlike the abortion-inducing medication, RU-486.
Cuccinelli's campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Planned Parenthood Votes has released an animated video ad urging women to educate each other about the attorney general's record on reproductive rights issues.
“There is no question that the Republican ticket’s record on women’s health is the most extreme that we have ever seen in Virginia," said Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Planned Parenthood's Virginia PAC. "That’s why we’re seeing Ken Cuccinelli attempting to muddy the waters on issues important to Virginia women and our health."
Watch Planned Parenthood's video below: