Virginia’s Republican candidate for governor, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), has given thousands of dollars in donations to “crisis pregnancy centers” (CPCs). Those right-wing organizations typically present themselves as viable alternatives to abortion clinics — but in reality, they prey on their patients’ emotions and actively spread misinformation about women’s health.
As Mother Jones reports, the GOP lawmaker’s tax returns reveal that he donated $4,038 to CPCs between 2008 to 2012. That works out to be about 13 percent of Cuccinelli’s overall charitable giving for that time period.
Thanks to NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, which has been investigating the state’s CPCs for years, the type of tactics that these groups use are no secret. In August, one of NARAL’s undercover investigations recorded CPC employees lying to women about the dangers of birth control. Women often assume they are receiving unbiased medical information at CPCs, but end up being told misleading information about the risks of hormonal contraception and the false link between abortion and depression.
One of the CPCs that Cuccinelli financially supported tells patients that abortion will increase their chance of getting breast cancer, and that choosing to end a pregnancy will “haunt” them for the rest of their lives.
“No matter your political stance, we can all agree that women seeking health care and advice should be given medically accurate information,” Anna Scholl, the executive director of ProgressVA, pointed out in a statement. “Cuccinelli’s support of crisis pregnancy centers is simply one more example of prioritizing his extreme ideology over the health of Virginia women.”
Aside from his personal charitable donations, Cuccinelli has also supported state policies that indirectly support CPCs. He helped pass legislation to allow Virginia’s Department of Motor Vehicles to sell specialty pro-life license plates, the proceeds of which help fund CPCs. He also backed the state’s forced ultrasound law, which requires women to get a sonogram before being allowed to proceed with an abortion procedure. Under that law, the state’s health department lists 18 clinics where low-income women may receive this procedure free of charge — but all of them are actually CPCs, ensuring that the state is tacitly endorsing the right-wing groups.
Even aside from CPCs, Cuccinelli’s opposition to women’s access to reproductive health care is well-documented. During his time as attorney general, he advocated for tighter regulations on abortion clinics that threaten to close many of the facilities currently operating in Virginia. After reproductive rights groups sued, he attempted to block the lawsuit from proceeding. He has also fought against Obamacare’s birth control benefit, which ensures that millions of women have affordable access to contraception through their insurance provider. And he’s endorsed radical “personhood” legislation that would endow fertilized eggs with all the rights of U.S. citizens.
Now that Cuccinelli is running for governor, however, he has attempted to downplay his far-right stance on women’s health issues. He now claims that he’s never supported personhood, and recently suggested that he doesn’t support any new restrictions on birth control.