‘A complete disgrace’: Anger as congressional candidate says she doubts women get pregnant from rape

‘A complete disgrace’: Anger as congressional candidate says she doubts women get pregnant from rape
·4 min read

The Republican candidate running in Virginia’s seventh congressional district has come under fire for suggesting that women are less likely to become pregnant from rape.

Yesli Vega is campaigning to unseat Democrat Abigail Spanberger. She was asked about her stance on abortion while campaigning last month, audio obtained by Axios shows.

Before the Supreme Court struck down Roe v Wade, the Prince William County supervisor and sheriff’s deputy was asked during a campaign stop in Stafford County what she thinks Congress should do if the ruling was to be overturned.

She said she supports new restrictions on the state level, adding that “the left will say, ‘well what about in cases of rape or incest?’ I’m a law enforcement officer. I became a police officer in 2011. I’ve worked one case where as a result of a rape, the young woman became pregnant”.

She was then asked: “I’ve actually heard that it’s harder for a woman to get pregnant if she’s been raped. Have you heard that?”

“Well, maybe because there’s so much going on in the body,” Ms Vega said. “I don’t know. I haven’t, you know, seen any studies. But if I’m processing what you’re saying, it wouldn’t surprise me. Because it’s not something that’s happening organically. You’re forcing it. The individual, the male, is doing it as quickly — it’s not like, you know — and so I can see why there is truth to that. It’s unfortunate.”

The President pro tempore of the Senate of Virginia, Louise Lucas, slammed Ms Vega, tweeting: “This woman is running around in law enforcement spewing this kind of crap? She’s a complete disgrace to everyone else wearing that uniform.”

In a statement to Axios, Ms Vega said: “I’m a mother of two, I’m fully aware of how women get pregnant.”

Florida State University College of Law professor Mary Ziegler, who studies reproductive freedom, told USA Today that “pro-choice groups see rape and incest exceptions as the canary in the coal mine when it comes to extremism”.

She added that they argue that “if you’re willing to abandon these exceptions, then there’s no saying when you’re going to stop”.

Political action committee Vote Vets tweeted that “Yesli Vega is an extremist and way out of touch with voters in Virginia and throughout the country. We didn’t fight overseas to have our freedoms taken away here at home by people like Vega. Her comments are outrageous, disgusting and shameful”.

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)
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)

Polling published on Sunday shows that 59 per cent of Americans believe that the overturning of Roe was wrong.

According to the pro-abortion rights research group the Guttmacher Institute, around one per cent of all abortions stem from cases of rape.

The CDC states that almost three million women in the US have experienced a pregnancy prompted by rape in their life.

Ms Vega won the Republican primary for the seat last week. She said that abortion rights groups are “pushing a narrative that the vast majority of abortions are from pregnancies as a result of rape, when in fact that is not true”.

She has only supported exceptions for “rare instances where the life of the mother is at risk, and doctors have taken every measure to save the lives of both the mother and her unborn child”.

Ms Spanberger issued a statement on Friday, criticizing the overturning of Roe.

“Rather than punish America’s women, lawmakers must stand with them,” she said. “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.”

“Oh, look, the Rep candidate in my district is a science denier. Who could have guessed?” Rachel Vindman tweeted.

“Maybe you can’t get pregnant via rape because rape isn’t organic and the male is doing it quickly, according to this Republican ding dong Yesli Vega. Todd Akinism lives on,” Imani Gandy added.

Former Representative Todd Akin was a conservative Missouri Republican who said that women’s bodies have a way of avoiding pregnancies in cases of “legitimate rape”.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” he said in August 2012.

The statement ended his bid for the Senate.

End Citizens United, a group of Democratic activists advocating for campaign finance reform, tweeted: “Yesli Vega is an out-of-touch politician who is too extreme for Virginia. She wants to see abortion banned in Virginia, and is spreading dangerous and harmful lies like this. We must keep her out of Congress.”