VA-07 GOP Candidate Yesli Vega Makes Controversial Comments on Abortion

Winner of Tuesday's Republican primary for the 7th district congressional race, Yesli Vega, left, speaks to the crows along with Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin at a restaurant Wednesday, June 22, 2022, in Woodbridge, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By Meghin Moore

June 30, 2022

Axios Local’s Ned Oliver obtained audio of VA-07 GOP congressional candidate Yesli Vega downplaying the possibility that a woman could get pregnant as a result of rape. 

New audio released earlier this week comes from a campaign stop in Stafford County back in May, where she was asked about her stance on abortion, as well as her thoughts on what Congress should do if Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court.

In two audio clips published to Oliver’s Twitter account, Vega is heard saying “I’m a law enforcement officer. I became a police officer in 2011. I’ve worked one case where as a result of rape, the young woman became pregnant.”

She then goes on to talk about how she’s a “believer,” and that it’s important to give someone all of the resources available if they find themselves pregnant in a situation like that.

“If you decide to deviate and do something else, we don’t stop loving you. That’s when you need even more support because of the data that we have. It’s been proven that women who do move forward with an abortion, they suffer so much,” she said.

Vega’s comments sound exactly like something crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) try to tell women. Many CPCs advertise on their websites that women might experience grief and unresolved feelings after an abortion that might not surface immediately. CPCs use the language “post-abortion syndrome” to talk about this phenomenon, even though many women who seek an abortion feel relief after the procedure, instead of grief. 

In another clip, a woman can be heard saying “You were saying that you only ran into one instance of pregnancy as a result of rape. I’ve actually heard it’s harder for a woman to get pregnant if she’s been raped. Have you heard that?”

Vega can then be heard saying “Maybe, because there’s so much going on in the body? I don’t know…it wouldn’t surprise me because it’s not something that’s happening organically. You’re forcing it.”

That comment echoes what Todd Akin said back in 2012: “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try and shut that whole thing down.”

In Richmond, Rev. Dwylene Butler talked to VPM’s “Focal Point” about her experiences with rape and abortion. She’s the Executive Minister at Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church, and she’s also a sexual assault survivor who elected to have an abortion. 

When Butler was a sophomore in college, she was raped. That sexual assault resulted in a pregnancy, and she had to grapple with her faith on whether or not to get an abortion. She grew up “believing abortion was sinful,” but then started to question everything she had been taught about abortion as a result of her rape. She got an abortion at a clinic in her home state of Connecticut. 

Even though pregnancies that result from rape can and do happen, according to The Guttmacher Institute, very few abortions are sought for this scenario. Pregnancies that result from rape may go unreported, just like the sexual assault as well.

Vega, who recently won the GOP nomination in Virginia’s primary, will be running against incumbent Abigail Spanberger in November.

Spanberger released a statement after the fall of Roe v. Wade, where she went on to say “In the wake of today’s ruling, it falls on all of us to defend our neighbors, protect all rights enshrined under the right to privacy, and make sure women are never criminalized for making decisions about their own bodies. Rather than punish America’s women, lawmakers must stand with them. And rather than pursue extreme new laws, our elected officials must remember their obligation to protect our basic rights. Today is a dark day, but it cannot be the end of our efforts.”

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