Planned Parenthood Votes anti-Cuccinelli ad focuses on rights of rape, incest survivors

Planned Parenthood’s political arm released a television ad Tuesday warning women voters that Ken Cuccinelli II, the Republican candidate for Virginia governor, is opposed to abortion in nearly all cases, including pregnancies that are the result of rape or incest.

“Three hundred thousand women report being raped in America every year,” a female narrator says in the ad as black-and-white images of women fill the screen, followed by an image of an ambulance. “But Ken Cuccinelli would put his extreme policies ahead of their needs. He’d force a survivor of rape or incest in Virginia to carry a pregnancy caused by her attacker.”

The ad also states that Cuccinelli is opposed to emergency contraception that could prevent a pregnancy after a rape, and ends with this declaration: “Ken Cuccinelli: Wrong for women. Wrong for Virginia.”

The Cuccinelli campaign referred questions related to the new ad, paid for by Planned Parenthood Votes, to the Republican Party of Virginia. In a statement, spokesman Garren Shipley did not challenge any of the assertions made in the ad and instead highlighted work that Cuccinelli has done to protect women and children, including starting a sexual assault awareness program in college and combatting human trafficking and sexual predators as attorney general.

Although the ad does not mention Cuccinelli’s opponent, democrat Terry McAuliffe, Shipley criticized attack ads sponsored by McAuliffe or his supporters.

“This is the same tired Terry McAuliffe rhetoric we’ve heard over and over again, primarily because Terry McAuliffe has no agenda or plan for Virginia of his own,” Shipley said. “Ken Cuccinelli has been fighting for Virginians, while all Terry McAuliffe can do is attack Ken Cuccinelli.”

The Planned Parenthood Votes ad will soon air in the Richmond and Norfolk areas as part of a $1 million television and radio ad campaign the group launched this month. Planned Parenthood Votes has been active in Virginia since February with a campaign of “Keep Ken Out.”

Women voters have cemented McAuliffe’s lead over Cuccinelli, according to recent polls, a division along gender lines that has emerged in the past few months. The McAuliffe campaign has saturated television with ads about issues of special concern to many women, including Cuccinelli’s stances on access to birth control and abortion rights.

In another ad this month, Planned Parenthood Votes took a broader look at Cuccinelli’s stances or actions that the group considers dangerous to women’s health, including limiting access to birth control, opposing emergency contraception and banning abortions.

“Ken Cuccinelli’s extreme and dangerous views would take women back decades,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Votes in a statement Tuesday. “That’s why the more women learn about his positions, the more they want to keep him out of the governor’s mansion.”

Jenna Johnson is a political reporter who is covering the 2016 presidential campaign.

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