RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said he misunderstood the question he was asked in a video clip posted by the Democratic Party of Virginia in which he described the Plan B pill as “a chemical abortion.”
In the 14-second video clip tweeted by the Democratic Party of Virginia on Wednesday, Wittman is asked about the pill by an unknown woman who appears to be recording the Republican congressman without his knowledge.
“You know, connected with that is the Plan B pill, the so-called contraception,” the woman is heard saying in the clip. “But is it really contraception? I mean, you know, is it…”
“It’s a chemical abortion, is what it is,” Wittman answers while the woman is mid-sentence. She then responds, “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” before the clip ends.
The day after the video clip was released, Wittman told 8News he misunderstood the question.
“It was an incredibly busy and noisy place. I misunderstood the question,” Wittman said in an interview Thursday. “I am firmly, firmly in favor of full access to contraception. I am not though in favor of medicines that cause abortions, period.”
Emergency contraceptives, typically called “morning after pills,” like the Plan B pill prevent pregnancies “by preventing or delaying ovulation,” but “they do not induce an abortion,” according to the World Health Organization.
The Democratic Party of Virginia shared what spokesperson Gianni Snidle said was the “full video,” which is nearly two and a half minutes long, on Friday. The video was taken during the Northumberland County Republican Committee’s annual oyster roast on Oct. 15, Snidle said.
In the video provided to 8News, the woman tells Wittman she’s a Chesterfield resident who was now a 1st Congressional District voter after being in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.
“So the other thing that’s a really big issue to me is the abortion issue,” the woman says. “Would you support, I mean a nationwide ban I think is really needed.”
“Well, I’m adopted and I’m pro-life so there’s no question in my mind. And of course, the other side is trying to make it an issue about us being extreme but I said the real extremists in this are the other side that don’t want to provide any protections,” Wittman says in the video. “In fact, they don’t even want to protect an infant that survives an abortion. So, really? I mean you talk about, isn’t that the extreme?”
The woman then says she’s concerned about providing exceptions to women who have been raped, asking Wittman “won’t there be women who claim they’ve been raped just so they can get an abortion?”
Wittman said “maybe they could” but added that he believes there would have to be proof for such an exception.
“Hey listen, rape’s a crime so if someone comes in and says I want an abortion because of rape, to me, you have to make that criminal connection and say have you been to the police because we don’t want situations where someone’s not going to be at least, you know, at least investigated on a potential crime,” he said. “So, I think those two have to be joined together.”
After Wittman’s answer, the woman tells him she agrees with him and then moves on to ask about the Plan B pill.
“As a child of adoption, I am pro-life. I have been consistent in my opposition to abortion with exceptions for rape, incest, or to protect the mother’s life. I support contraception, including emergency contraception, and I believe we have a duty to care for women with unplanned pregnancies,” Wittman said in a statement Friday.
“On the other hand, my opponent would join the same radical and extreme positions as Democrats in Washington who support late-term abortion all the way to the due date, oppose providing care for babies born alive following a failed abortion, and support taxpayer funded abortions,” Wittman claimed in his statement.
The office of state Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico), a practicing OBGYN, said she was unable for an interview Friday because she “is with patients today at her medical practice.”