Home Youngkin forced to confront how his far right turn on abortion, trans students is bad for business

Youngkin forced to confront how his far right turn on abortion, trans students is bad for business

Chris Graham
glenn youngkin
(© mark reinstein – Shutterstock)

Gov. Glenn Youngkin was asked on CNBC on Wednesday to consider how his far-right turn on abortion and transgender student policies could be bad for business.

His tortured response was another reminder of why he won’t be a factor in the 2024 Republican presidential race.

CNBC congressional correspondent Ylan Mui, at the CNBC Delivering Alpah Investor Summit in New York City, pushed the issue with Youngkin, who signaled earlier this year that he will push a 15-week abortion ban in the 2023 Virginia General Assembly, and had his Department of Education propose the rollout of a rollback of protections for transgender K-12 students enacted under his predecessor, Ralph Northam, a Democrat.

“If folks looked in Virginia and if Boeing and Raytheon and Lego called you up and said, Hey, we don’t really like this policy, we don’t like this transgender policy, we’re not happy with where you stand on abortion bans, what would you say to them?” Mui asked Youngkin.

Youngkin’s response: “Well, I would begin with, Read the policy and see where we stand, because neither one of those statements is actually very correct,” the governor said, repeating a line that he has tried to use often in response to being pressed on the abortion ban and the anti-trans policies, in an effort to have it both ways.

Youngkin, in his effort to angle at a run for the Republican presidential nomination, is trying to position himself as both a middle-of-the-roader focused on getting things done and a loyal MAGA, which will prove to be impossible.

“What we’ve done in Virginia, particularly on abortion, is recognize that Virginia elected a pro-life governor, and I’m very cognizant of where Virginia is today. We have a House that is controlled by Republicans and a Senate that is controlled by Democrats. Literally, just 20 months ago, there was debates on the House floor to expand abortion rights all the way up through and including childbirth, paid for with taxpayer money, and Virginians said that’s too extreme,” Youngkin said.

Fact check: that’s not true, and Youngkin knows it, and he knows that the business audience watching on CNBC knows it.

Youngkin is misrepresenting legislation introduced by Northern Virginia Democratic Del. Kathy Tran back in 2019, ultimately rejected by a House committee, that proposed changes in restrictions in state law on third-trimester abortions, which account for around 1 percent of all abortions.

Current state law requires that the operation needs to be done in a hospital, that three physicians have to certify the operation and that “measures for life support for the product of such abortion or miscarriage must be available and utilized if there is any clear evidence of viability.”

Tran’s bill would have required certification by only one doctor. It would also have removed language requiring that the danger to the mother be “substantial and irremediable.”

The legislation wasn’t subject to “debates on the House floor,” since it died in committee, and it wasn’t about “expand(ing) abortion rights all the way up through and including childbirth, paid for with taxpayer money.”

It just wasn’t.

And again, the Boeings and Raytheons and Legos of the business world know this, and Fortune 500s looking to invest their money have to have as a consideration the impact of restrictive social policies on their workforce and their families when they consider investing their millions and billions.

On the anti-trans “model policy” from his Department of Education: “I believe that people universally understand that parents have a right to be engaged in their children’s life,” Youngkin said. “I’ve always asked folks, if you don’t think that parents should be engaged in their children’s life, like many of the progressive Democrats said last year during my election, and my opponent said it very clearly, Virginians stood up and said, no, that’s not what we believe. We think parents should be.”

“Many” progressive Democrats said parents shouldn’t be engaged in their children’s lives?

This might sound good at a MAGA rally, but seriously.

“I think that’s what people try to do today, is put you in either this far box or that far box.  And there is an ‘and’ moment here, which is there is a path forward that respects parents’ rights to be engaged in their children’s lives and, in fact, fully respects the child as well,” Youngkin said.

Fact check: nothing about Youngkin’s “model policies” “fully respects the child.” The policies state that the legal name and sex of a student can’t be changed “even upon written instruction of a parent or eligible student” without an official legal document or court order, and that teachers and other school officials can only refer to a student by their pronouns associated with their sex at birth, and also don’t have to refer to a student’s preferred names regardless of paperwork if they feel doing so “would violate their constitutionally protected rights.”

The legality of the “model policies” is at question, with recent court decisions, including a 2020 United States Supreme Court ruling written by Trump appointee Neil Gorsuch, and another 2020 ruling from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in a Virginia case, have upheld protections for transgender people and trans students.

In the Virginia case, the appeals court ruled in favor of former Gloucester County high school student Gavin Grimm, deciding that restroom policies segregating transgender students from their peers are unconstitutional and violate Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education.

The Supreme Court declined to take up the Grimm case on appeal.

Youngkin, his eyes on the 2024 prize, is kowtowing to the MAGAs, which is perfectly fine as a political strategy, but he’s way back in line in that respect, behind Donald Trump, behind Ron DeSantis, behind Greg Abbott.

The notion that he was going to separate himself from the pack with the slick red vest packaging pushing him as the getting things done guy alternative gets debunked more and more by the day.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].