An unprecedented flood of cash swamped Virginia’s state legislative elections in November, resulting in record spending on television advertising. Based on bad-faith claims about a Democrat-sponsored later-abortion bill proposed last January, Republicans across the state tried to paint their opponents as “infanticide” supporters, across social media, direct mail, and television.

But Democrats fought back, with ads touting support for abortion rights in bold and innovative ways.

In Virginia Beach, Delegate Kelly Fowler, running for reelection, and Delegate Cheryl Turpin, looking to move to the state Senate, faced some of the ugliest attacks. Fowler won easily; Turpin lost narrowly. But both stepped up with ads promoting their abortion stand that were widely praised for their calm candor. NARAL Pro Choice America ran an ad called “Fact Check” that offered a road map to fighting the “infanticide” smear. You can see some of these ads below.


Cheryl Turpin’s opponent Jen Kiggins depicted the high school science teacher as a dangerous, pussy-hat-wearing radical who supports “infanticide.”


Turpin fought back by calling Kiggans “an extreme Republican politician that opposes abortion,” and hit her for her ties to a deceptive so-called “crisis pregnancy center” that tricks women into thinking it’s an abortion clinic, then tries to coerce them into continuing the pregnancy.


In this lurid ad, GOP challenger Shannon Kane accused Fowler, herself a sexual abuse survivor, of trying to “silence” two women who accused Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax of sexual assault.

Big Difference

To bolster support from women, Fowler ran an ad that put her abortion-rights support front and center, noting that “Shannon Kane even opposes abortion when a doctor determines a patient’s life is at risk.”

Fact Check

A version of this NARAL Pro-Choice America ad ran to support several candidates facing the “infanticide” smear. Advocates believe its dispassionate recital of the truth about later abortion provides a model for other candidates facing similar attacks.