February 14, 2012 - 7:49 pm

BY WESLEY P. HESTER

Within minutes of legislation passing the Virginia House of Delegates Tuesday that would define life as beginning at conception, Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Timothy M. Kaine had a “simple question” for Republican rival George Allen.

“Does George Allen support the ‘personhood’ measure in the Virginia House of Delegates that is sponsored by his challenger, Delegate Bob Marshall?” Kaine’s campaign asked in a press release.  

Later in the afternoon, Allen’s campaign offered a simple answer: Yes.

“This measure is about protecting innocent unborn life. If a criminal hits a pregnant mother injuring or killing the unborn child, then there would be a cause of action for that child as well,” elaborated Allen spokeswoman Katie Wright.

“Democrats are desperately trying to make this a battle over contraceptives.  As George Allen has often said he is opposed to the government prohibiting or banning contraceptives – and this bill doesn’t do that,” she added.  

House Bill 1, sponsored by conservative Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, would impart the rights of “personhood” to a human embryo at the moment of conception.

Marshall, who is challenging Allen for the Republican nomination in this year’s U.S. Senate race, says the bill is designed to create a civil cause of action for the wrongful death of an unborn child killed by the negligent or criminal act of a third party.

Some Democrats, including Kaine, say the law could effectively make it illegal to terminate a pregnancy or even allow women to use contraception that prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg.

Kaine, who like Marshall is Catholic, blasted both opponents Monday.

“Whether the Republican nominee is Allen or Marshall, it’s clear both are willing to prioritize extreme legislation that could jeopardize access to contraception,” he said. “As a senator, I will fight for affordable and accessible contraception for all women so they can make the best health decisions for themselves and their families.”