Oh Bob…

Earlier today, a story began circulating concerning Delegate Bob Marshall.  I first read about it in the News Leader, a publication based in the Shenandoah Valley, under the provocative headline, “Disabled Kids are God’s Punishment”.  On Thursday of last week, while advocating defunding Planned Parenthood, Delegate Marshall stated, “The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.  In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”  As a result of this article, a number of bloggers and activists have been questioning his words and motives such as Bearing Drift and The Right-Wing Liberal.  In addition, some folks (661 as of this post) have signed a petition asking Delegate Marshall to both apologize and resign.

So here are my thoughts on the matter.  First, after reading a bit more, I think the headline should have read, “Disabled Kids are sometimes God’s Punishment”.  The quote doesn’t say that all disabled kids are punishment from God, but the disability maybe as a result of sin.  Semantics I know, but I feel for the sake of accuracy the point should be made.  Nevertheless, a comment like the one Delegate Marshall still raises a boatload of questions and is still grotesquely offensive at worst and poorly worded at best.  Now I don’t know if the chance of birth defects increases as a result of a previous abortion, but even if so, the comment seems callous and vindictive.  More troubling still in my mind is the attempt to pronounce God’s will.  Even though we in the pro-life community believe abortion to be a sin, I would never call a birth defect as a “punishment from God”.  For a more personal example, when my grandmother (a God-fearing woman) was struck with Alzheimer’s was it as a result of genetics or was it God’s wrath?

In response to this story, Delegate Marshall offered the following statement:

A story by Capital News Service regarding my remarks at a recent press conference opposing taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood conveyed the impression that I believe disabled children are a punishment for prior abortions. No one who knows me or my record would imagine that I believe or intended to communicate such an offensive notion. I have devoted a generation of work to defending disabled and unwanted children, and have always maintained that they are special blessings to their parents. Nevertheless, I regret any misimpression my poorly chosen words may have created as to my deep commitment to fighting for these vulnerable children and their families.


Delegate Bob Marshall
State Delegate, 13th District
Prince William County, Loudoun County

I don’t think that one should rule out the possibly that Delegate Marshall’s comments were taken out of context.  After all, as Bob Holsworth points out (courtesy of Jason Kenney at Bearing Drift) no one fights harder for children with autism than Bob Marshall.  If he viewed such a condition as “punishment from God”, I doubt he would care too much about the topic.  In addition, if these comments were made on Thursday, why, with all of our instant communication, did it take several days for this comment to be made public?  As you well know, I greatly appreciate many of Delegate Marshall’s efforts in the General Assembly on key issues like abortion, states rights, and health care freedom and therefore so badly want to believe the best in this situation.  Nevertheless, assuming he was misunderstood, I fear that his comments have given great encouragement to those who oppose him and his politics.  Either way, it makes my heart heavy.  Delegate Marshall, you know I admire your principles and your courage.  This can’t be the real you.  And if this comment is just a misunderstanding, don’t let it destroy your good works.

2 Replies to “Oh Bob…”

  1. I have helped Bob Marshall on several previous campaigns, and I know he is a person who very thoughtful and kind toward his fellow citizens. We all say something that comes out a bit more harsh than we intended; even good friends will sometimes disappoint with the occasional gaff.

    There are sound clips on several blogs of Bob saying exactly what he has been accused of saying, so he is only adding to the problem by claiming that we are all merely “misinterpreting” or taking his words out of context.

    Remember the lessons of Watergate and Lewinski-gate, Bob. Just come clean, make a sincere apology. Do not claim that the people are too stupid to understand what you said, especially given that the audio is all over the web, confirming your gaff.

    I am wondering what medical research Bob Marshall is referring to when he says that births after an abortion experience a higher level of defects? Is the higher rate, if it exists, attributable to the prior abortion, or does the prior abortion have no influence on the defect. Are the defects caused by some other factor, such as disease, or after-effect of an illness?

    In statistical analysis, one must prove correlation and cause and effect among the data, as it interrelates. For example, as hemlines rise, so does the stock market, but there is no cause and effect between hemlines and stock prices.

    I also rather doubt that there is any substantial body of evidence that would lead anyone to conclude that disease or birth defects are most likely attributable to God’s wrath. If this were so, why would God punish just a few who had abortions and not all who had abortions?

  2. The only Jewish GOPer in the U.S. House of Representatives is poised to become its second-highest ranking Republican.

    Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) is likely to ascend to the minority whip position in the House after another GOP lawmaker, Roy Blunt of Missouri, stepped down from the post on Nov. 6.

    Cantor, 45, has served as chief deputy whip for the past six years and has been considered a rising star in the Republican Party pretty much since his election to the House in 2000.

    As someone who could appeal to two key constituencies—Jews and conservatives—Cantor’s name was even floated this summer as a possible vice-presidential pick for John McCain, although it doesn’t appear as if he were seriously considered for the position. He also played a key role in negotiations over an economic bailout bill earlier this fall, offering conservative alternatives to the package originally proposed by the Bush administration.

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