Virginia Attorney General and presumptive gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli (R) was soundly criticized by both state Democrats and reproductive health advocates following the release of a 2012 speech in which he compared the fight to abolish slavery with anti-abortion policies.
Mother Jones reported on Wednesday that in the June 2012 speech, Cuccinelli told an audience of religious conservatives, “It’s funny how, over time, the truth demonstrates its own rightness, and its own righteousness. Our experience as a country has demonstrated that on one issue after another. Start right at the beginning: slavery. Today, abortion.”
The video was posted online by a state Democrat on Tuesday.
Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Planned Parenthood’s political action committee in Virginia, said Cuccinelli’s remarks showed that he is out of touch with women and part of a larger attack on reproductive health rights.
“While Cuccinelli’s latest ignorant and offensive comments focus on his fight to end safe and legal abortion, his attack on women’s health is much broader,” she said in a statement on Wednesday. “He’s also fighting every day to end access to birth control and family planning, which can prevent unintended pregnancy in the first place.”
Meanwhile, former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder (D), the state’s first African-American elected to the office and a grandson of slaves, told the Associated Press that drawing any connection between the two topics was historically ignorant at best, and outrageous at worst.
“I would think that if Mr. Cuccinelli had a chance to reflect, he would refine his statements,” Wilder said.
But a spokesperson for Cuccinelli, Anna nix, said the video was an effort by former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe to distract voters in advance of his potential campaign for governor. McAuliffe is the presumptive Democratic nominee for the position, as Cuccinelli is for his party.
“McAuliffe wants to take his experience as DNC Chairman and run a contentious campaign that divides Virginia,” Nix said. ” Ken Cuccinelli fights to protect the innocent. From victims of human trafficking and child pornography to those wrongly convicted of a crime, Ken will continue to speak for the weakest in our society.”
This is not the first time Cuccinelli has been assailed for his views on reproductive rights. An August 2012 parody video, “Hands Off, Crazy,” knocked him for his campaign to shutter clinics in the state that performed abortions.
Watch footage of Cuccinelli’s comparison between abortion and slavery, posted on Tuesday by YouTube user “Kristen Celine,” below.