Discourse needs accountability

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March 1, 2010

11:42 PM

Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) opposed the state funding of Planned Parenthood at a press conference Feb. 18. He said, “The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children.” He added, “In the Old Testament, the firstborn of every being, animal and man was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

Marshall seems to imply that disabled children are a special punishment from the Old Testament that occurs when the firstborn is aborted. Marshall is a Christian, and the Virginia Christian Action set up the press conference petitioning against Planned Parenthood; however, these comments seem quite un-Christian. My understanding of the Christian God is one of forgiveness — and at the very least not one to punish an innocent child with a disability because of the actions of his mother.

As unsettling as these comments are, it is equally disturbing that Marshall denies making them. He claims to have been taken out of context and that he was making a point that scientific evidence supports religious teachings about the sacredness of life. Marshall never mentions any sort of science in his comments at the press conference. Gov. Bob McDonnell, who does not support funding for Planned Parenthood, has even criticized the delegate for his outrageous comments.

Marshall’s stance on abortion is not the problem I have with him; instead, I question his inability to speak about his beliefs from a logical perspective. There is no reason to lambaste Planned Parenthood and abortion with un-Christian statements about a vengeful God punishing women who have had abortions, not to mention their subsequent children. If he were to actually state a point about abortion and why he disagrees with it without invoking the Old Testament, he would likely appeal to a wider audience than that of his Bible-thumping political base.

Marshall, as well as other politicians in similar situations, needs to admit that what he said was wrong, or at least stand by his comments instead of cowardly denying their existence. The public reaction and continued backlash could have been easily be dealt with had Marshall humbly apologized for his remarks instead of fighting with media outlets. As a result, Marshall has become a late-night punch line and has been chastised by even his political allies in Virginia. Comments like this continue to prohibit our government from actually accomplishing anything, instead leaving it mired between discussions of a vengeful, angry God and discussions regarding whether previous discussions actually occurred.

E-mail Ben Arancibia at [email protected]

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