UPDATED: Virginia Delegate: Handicapped Children Are God’s Punishment to Women

Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassas has found a new explanation
for why there are disabled children in the world — apparently they are God’s
punishment to women for abortion.

On Thursday at a press conference to urge the state to end all
funding to Planned Parenthood Advocates of Virginia, the Staunton News
Leader quotes Marshall

"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," said Marshall, a Republican.

"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."

So according to Marshall’s logic does that mean that Sarah
Palin has had an abortion? That Trig is her punishment from God? That society
should look at all women who have disabled children as suspect of some evil?

The Virginia Christian Alliance sponsored the press conference to present a petition urging the state to end all
funding to Planned Parenthood of Virginia, which provides low-cost health
services such as pap smears, breast cancer screenings, family planning services
and testing for sexually transmitted infections, among other services.

The Associated
Press reported
that Marshall claimed Planned Parenthood receives "about
$500,000 a year" from the state, yet "when pressed he
couldn’t provide an accounting for that number."

The AP
also noted
that the real figure is much lower according to both Planned
Parenthood and the state Department of Health.

Planned Parenthood lobbyist Jessica Honke said the only state
dollars the group receives is from Medicaid reimbursements for about 1,000
women for gynecological care and family planning services.

Craig Markva, a spokesman for the state Department of Medical
Assistance Services, said Virginia Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood from
July 1, 2008 through June 31, 2009 totaled $35,006.

In addition, the state Department of Health had a contract with
Planned Parenthood to provide HIV prevention services in juvenile detention
centers, for which the organization received more than $28,000 over that same
time period, according to former Secretary of Health and Human Resources
Secretary Marilyn Tavenner’s Jan. 7 response to a Freedom of Information Act
request filed by The Family Foundation and provided to The Associated Press.

Regardless of the real amount, Marshall has
sponsored a budget amendment to eliminate state funding for Planned Parenthood,
joined by Republican Delegate Brenda Pogge of Williamsburg. The
Virginia Pilot reported
that Gov.
Bob McDonnell’s spokesperson said he supports the Virginia Christian Alliance’s petition.

UPDATED February 23 9:45 am EST: Bob Marshall regrets his choice of words (but not his amendment).

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

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  • progo35

    ‘So according to Marshall’s logic does that mean that Sarah Palin has had an abortion? That Trig is her punishment from God? That society should look at all women who have disabled children as suspect of some evil?"


    Marshall’s comment is reflective of the kind of ableism that aflicts both the pro choice and pro life communities. In this case, Marshall is saying that disabled children are a punishment from God. His pro choice brethren like Jocelyn Elders say that abortion is good because it has decreased the number of disabled children in the world. But you know what I don’t here anyone discussing? The DISABLED PEOPLE BEING REFERRED TO. It bothers me, Rachel, that you noted how the social stigma that is encouraged through Marshall’s comment impacts women, but not how it impacts disabled people. You totally ignored that in addition to looking at women who have disabled children as having committed an evil, People in society are encouraged to the disabled people themselves as evil in response to such comments.
    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • progo35

    I wanted to share one of the Biblical texts that is always an inspiration to me as a disabled person. This is from the New International Version online, accessed through Bible Gateway:

    John 9 (New International Version)

    John 9
    Jesus Heals a Man Born Blind
    1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

    3″Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

    6Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. 7″Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

    8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” 9Some claimed that he was.
    Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”
    But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

    10″How then were your eyes opened?” they demanded.

    11He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

    12″Where is this man?” they asked him.
    “I don’t know,” he said.
    The Pharisees Investigate the Healing
    13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

    16Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”
    But others asked, “How can a sinner do such miraculous signs?” So they were divided.

    17Finally they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”
    The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

    18The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19″Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

    20″We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ[a] would be put out of the synagogue. 23That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

    24A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God,[b]” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

    25He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

    26Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

    27He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?”

    28Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

    30The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

    34To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.
    Spiritual Blindness
    35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

    36″Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

    37Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

    38Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

    39Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

    40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

    41Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

    "Well behaved women seldom make history."-Laurel Thatcher Ulrich

  • liberaldem

    Delegate Marshall is simply another hateful, judgmental man who insists on imposing his personal prejudices and beliefs on other people-in this case, women in Virginia who use Planned Parenthood for health services such as routine exams and family planning advice.

  • unhappygrammy

    What is Delegate Marshall’s take on barren couples? God must be punishing them also for something they did in their lives. If so, why are they being rewarded with DCYF’s/CPS’ stolen children?

  • meg

    Cindy McCain should say something in response to this guy from Virginia. She has worked with Downs Syndrome kids and has done a number of good things – in spite of the politics in her life. I think she would be a very powerful voice to respond to this guy. Realistically I know this won’t happen, but it should.

  • meg

    Sarah Palin should also say something. If she already has then it wasn’t strong enough.