Pro-life groups say McAuliffe too 'extreme' for Va. governor

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidates Face Off In Debate Credit Linda Davidson Pool Getty Images News Getty Images CNA 11 4 13 Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Democratic candidate Terry McAuliff (L) take part in a debate on Sept. 25, 2013. | Linda Davidson-Pool/Getty Images News/Getty Images.

As Virginians head to the polls to elect their next governor, pro-life groups are urging voters to consider the 'extreme' views of Terry McAuliffe, which they say could jeopardize the health and safety of women.

"It's an outrage that Terry McAuliffe is siding with big abortion instead of Virginia women by opposing these common sense health and safety standards," said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List.

"Terry McAuliffe supports an extreme platform of abortion on demand up until the moment of birth, abortions for the purposes of sex selection, taxpayer funding of abortion, and abortions on teenage girls without parental consent," she charged.

"Should McAuliffe be elected Governor, he would turn a blind eye to women's safety in order to keep abortion facilities…in business."

Dannenfelser is one of numerous pro-life advocates cautioning against Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia, where he is running against pro-life Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

Cuccinelli describes himself on his website as a "strong supporter of life" who worked as a member of the state Senate to end partial-birth abortion and support parental consent and other pro-life measures.

A Quinnipiac University poll released a week before Election Day found Cuccinelli trailing by four percentage points among likely voters.

Pro-life groups have called the election a crucial one, taking place in a state with one of the highest number of pro-life laws in the U.S.

They argue that the Democratic candidate has failed to be transparent on the extent of his support for abortion, at times saying that he would leave abortion laws intact, while at other times calling for efforts to expand abortion in the state.

McAuliffe has been accused of holding an extreme position on abortion, opposing any limitations whatsoever and supporting taxpayer-funding of late-term abortion up until the moment of birth.

When questioned by The Weekly Standard about whether these claims are accurate, McAuliffe avoided the question, instead replying, "It's a beautiful day out today, huh?"

The candidate also sparked criticism after saying that he would act to block new state regulations of abortion clinics passed after more than 80 health violations were documented last year – ranging from doctors with unwashed hands to blood-stained tools.

Out of 18 abortion clinics in the country, 17 fail to meet the new health and safety standards.

However, at a campaign event last month, McAuliffe said that as governor, he would "issue a guidance option" to keep the clinics open, even if they do not comply with the health regulations.

He acknowledged that "only one of those 18 actually meet the requirements, so they'll all close If I don't do that," adding that if elected, he would "give a guidance opinion to the Board of Health to grandfather in those remaining clinics to keep them open."

Critics immediately slammed McAuliffe's comments.

"It is disturbing to see a politician so dedicated to the institution of abortion that he would fight to keep substandard facilities open," said Emily Buchanan, treasurer of Women Speak Out – Virginia.

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"Virginia voters deserve to know that Terry McAuliffe would use the Governor's office to support abortion businesses, rather than to protect Virginia women and families."

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