Does Bob Marshall Still Think Birth Defects Are Natural Consequences?


Does Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall still believe that abortion
causes birth defects? Would he still prefer to call such defects "nature’s consequences"
instead of nature’s vengeance?

Despite his statement
on Tuesday morning
that he regrets his "poorly chosen words" it’s unclear
exactly what words Marshall regrets. Is it only that he used the term
"vengeance" instead of "consequence?" That seems to be the obvious conclusion based on interviews given by Marshall on Monday.

The whole issue began on Thursday.  A story for Capitol News Service by Virginia
Commonwealth University student reporter Kelsey Radcliffe, who was covering a
press conference sponsored by the Virginia Christian Alliance, quotes Marshall as saying:

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.

Radcliffe was writing for a class in which students provide coverage of the state government for
various media outlets. Although Radcliffe was hardly the only reporter at the
press conference, she was the only one who caught the importance of Del.
Marshall’s statement, which she also
recorded on audio
.

The audio was posted on Capitol
News Service’s website
on Friday. Yet on Monday, as media attention to his statements grew, Marshall gave interviews to two local
Washington, DC radio stations, WMAL and WTOP, and entirely denied making the comments at all. When asked on WMAL about his statement, Marshall responded with indignation:

No! Look There was a press
conference last week. Are you telling me that the Washington Post, Virginia
Pilot, AP, and some local papers, that their reporters are so ignorant and
stupid that they missed this thing? That a reporter that is a college student happens
to scoop them all and it’s right in front of them. I mean come on. I never said
this.

In an interview recorded later in the day for WTOP he was asked if
the quote was a "mischaracterization." Marshall responded:

Correct. That’s [the reporter's]
conclusion. She never called me up. No reporter after that press conference
came up to me and said "Bob did you really mean this?" because I didn’t say it.

Marshall did hedge somewhat after the WTOP reporter read
back the exact quote to him. "I don’t know if I said that in that order, but I
did refer to nature’s vengeance, maybe I should have said consequences,"
Marshall said.  He went on to denigrate Radcliffe’s
work. "This is some college kid who’s out there playing professional
journalist. Sorry she falls short of your code of ethics."

However caught red-handed when the news of the audio of his
statement surfaced, Marshall’s office released a statement of regret for his
poor choice of words on Tuesday morning.

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 regret any misimpression my poorly chosen words may have
created as to my deep commitment to fighting for these vulnerable children and
their families.

Professor Jeff South of VCU, who teaches the class in which Radcliffe is enrolled, said that when he spoke to Marshall on Tuesday morning, the delegate mostly seemed to object to the reporter’s opening
sentence summarizing his statement as birth defects being "god’s punishment." However
throughout Monday while Marshall was denying he ever said the quoted statement he
also was clarifying his exact meaning.

On WTOP he said:

If nature takes its vengeance it’s
not god, it’s just the natural consequence. When you do an abortion of a first
pregnancy you are taking a …gosh I forget what they call these things … anyway
you are taking a muscle that’s tight to hold the pregnancy in place, and you
are rupturing it, you are forcing it to lose the contractual tenacity of the
muscle. This injures the muscle so that in future pregnancies it is not as
strong. It cannot hold the weight as long. That’s why you have significant
problems. This is nature talking to us. Our limits in nature. It’s not God
throwing lightning bolts down on people. We’re doing it to ourselves. The
abortionist’s scalpel simply cannot overcome the limitations of nature.

So on Monday Marshall wasn’t saying it was god that was giving women birth defects
as punishment for having an abortion (despite
his Biblical quote during the press conference) but such defects are a "natural
consequence" of having an abortion.

In his shifting justifications for these remarks, Marshall told Talking
Points Memo
reporter Eric Kleefeld that
his statements were scientifically, not divinely inspired.  Yet medicals studies are quite clear that abortion poses little to no risk for future pregnancies and is not related to birth defects. The Guttmacher
Institute
reports that:

Abortions performed in the
first trimester pose virtually no long-term risk of such problems as
infertility, ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion (miscarriage) or birth
defect, and little or no risk of preterm or low-birth-weight deliveries.

Ninety percent of all abortions occur in the first
trimester. In 2006 when Guttmacher released this report there was some
potential for increased risk for second trimester
abortions.

Some studies suggest that second-trimester
abortion using dilation and evacuation may pose some increased risk of
complications in future pregnancies, such as premature delivery and low birth
weight in future pregnancies (as it does for short-term mortality and
morbidity).

However, advances in the way
second-trimester abortions are performed appear to have reduced complications:
For instance, use of laminaria (a small, rod-shaped piece of dried seaweed),
rather than metal instruments, dilates the cervix more gradually and less
traumatically.

However in terms of mortality, when speaking strictly of risks, abortion is safer than pregnancy, a
point also noted by Media Matters
:

The CDC further reported:
"In 2004 (the most recent years for which data are available), seven women
died as a result of complications from known legal induced abortion."
Therefore, the mortality rate for women who died "as a result of
complications from known" abortions was less than 1 out of 100,000 legally
induced abortions. By contrast, the CDC reported
that in 2004, the maternal mortality rate was 11.3 (age-adjusted) or 13.1
(crude or non-age adjusted) per 100,000 live births. This figure includes
540 maternal deaths, 32 of which the CDC identified as a result of pregnancies
"with [an] abortive outcome."

Richard Anthony, a Democrat running for Congress in Virginia’s 10th
Congressional District, has started a
petition calling
for Marshall to resign
. It already has over 1500 signatories.

Like this story? Your $10 tax-deductible contribution helps support our research, reporting, and analysis.

To schedule an interview with Rachel Larris please contact Communications Director Rachel Perrone at rachel@rhrealitycheck.org.

  • crowepps

    It seems like he is describing a condition called insufficient cervix, although it’s hard to tell since he doesn’t know the correct terms for any of the body parts he’s talking about, but there’s sure no connection whatsoever between insufficient cervix and a handicapped child. This guy is too pig ignorant of reproductive facts to be in charge of making laws regulating medicine.

     

    He’s also a liar: I didn’t say that – oh, there’s a tape – I said it but didn’t mean it – I meant something else altogether.

     

    Anybody have a link to the stinging rebuke which I’m sure Sarah Palin has released?

  • rachel-larris

    I actually thought Amanda Marcotte nailed it on the head when she wrote about anti-choicers and how they try to push the case of breast cancer as a consequence of abortion because, in their minds, if it’s a sin it must be punished by God.

    With all this in mind, I’m forced to conclude that the
    reason those anti-choicers—a group of people that is almost
    unilaterally
    religious and uses their “faith” as a political tool—enjoy trotting
    out the
    breast cancer myth is because it’s an unsubtle way to threaten women who
    get
    abortions.  In other words, they’re
    telling you that if you get an abortion, God will punish you.  And
    he’ll do so in a highly misogynistic
    way, going after a symbol of your womanhood, your breasts.

     

    In this case its the uterus, not breasts, but clearly Bob Marshall is pretty much thinking along those lines. There must be some consequence to women who committ what he thinks is an evil act.

  • elyzabeth

    I know they probably didn’t have sex-ed when Marshall was in high school, but he should know better. I mean, a seventh-grader should have a better grasp of anatomy. The pregnancy is held in place by the pregnancy muscle! Abortionists rip the pregnancy muscle to suck out all the pregnancy! I mean, as opposed to an 8 lb baby, which gently stretches the pregnancy muscle and and is so much easier on the body…

    Additionally, according to the Guttmacher Institute, about 60% of women who have abortions already have children. Marshall wasn’t even correct about saying women abort their firstborn.

  • princess-rot

    …that to logically "abort" a firstborn then the child would have to be actually, you know, born. It sounds like he’s railing against killing a newborn, not aborting a first-trimester fetus that has more in common with a flatworm than a baby. I’m sure murdering a newborn and aborting a pregnancy are one in the same to these people, though. It’s just another way of diminishing women (we’re either faceless incubators or faceless killers), turning complex issues into silly, black-and-white emotive soundbites for people who can’t be bothered to learn anything, and reducing women to binary objects that have no recognized autonomy unless it’s convenient to blame and punish them for acting like they do.

    Either that, or he just doesn’t understand what "born" means.

  • christie

    I think the phrase he was searching for was INCOMPETENT cervix. You would think the word "incompetent" would come pretty easily to him.

    And it’s too bad there isn’t a tight, sphincter-like muscle around his lips.

     

    Christie

    http://www.ourheartbreakingchoices.com

     

  • liberaldem

    Even if sexuality education was available to Marshall when he was in school somehow I suspect he would not have participated in it, since his religious beliefs appear to rule out scientifically based information.

  • emgo

    …to mothers of kids with birth defects, to reasonable people of faith who don’t like their God used to invoke political agendas, and to med school professors everywhere, he’d better give a shout out to the (female) student reporter he dissed so agregiously by implying she was incompetent at best and a liar at worst for what? publishing his exact, documented words.

  • frolicnaked

    …to mothers of kids with birth defects…

     

    And to people with disabilities themselves. Disability is not a punishment. 

  • epicurienne

    No surprise at all that he attempted to discredit and smear the student reporter.  (Especially since she’s female).  That student did exactly what journalists are supposed to do, and deserves kudos.

  • marshall

    “To investigate the human and monetary cost consequences of preterm delivery as related to induced abortion (IA), with its impact on informed consent and medical malpractice. … A review of the literature in English was performed to assess the effect of IA on preterm delivery rates from 24 to 31 6/7 weeks to assess the risk for preterm birth attributable to IA. After calculating preterm birth risk, the increased initial neonatal hospital costs and cerebral palsy (CP) risks related to IA were calculated. … IA increased the early preterm delivery rate by 31.5%, with a yearly increase in initial neonatal hospital costs related to IA of > $1.2 billion. The yearly human cost includes 22,917 excess early preterm births (EPB) (< 32 weeks) and 1096 excess CP cases in very-low-birth-weight newborns, <1500 g. IA contributes to significantly increased neonatal health costs by causing 31.5% of EPB. Providers of obstetric care and abortion should be aware of the risk of preterm birth attributable to induced abortion, with its significant increase in initial neonatal hospital costs and CP cases.”

    Calhoun BC, Shadigian E, Rooney B., Cost consequences of induced abortion as an attributable risk for preterm birth and impact on informed consent, J Reprod Med. 2007 Oct;52(10):929-37, Department of Obstetrics, West Virginia University, Charleston 25302, USA. iglu7350@mypacks.net;  PMID: 17977168 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

  • marshall

    History of induced termination of pregnancy (I-TOP) is suggested as a precursor for infant being born low birthweight (LBW), preterm (PT) or small for gestational age (SGA). Infection, mechanical trauma to the cervix leading to cervical incompetence and scarred tissue following curettage are suspected mechanisms. To systematically review the risk of an infant being born LBW/PT/SGA among women with history of I-TOP. … Medline, Embase, CINAHL and bibliographies of identified articles were searched for English language studies. … Studies reporting birth outcomes to mothers with or without history of induced abortion were included. … Two reviewers independently collected data and assessed the quality of the studies for biases in sample selection, exposure assessment, confounder adjustment, analytical, outcome assessments and attrition. Meta-analyses were performed using random effect model and odds ratio (OR), weighted mean difference and 95% confidence interval (CI) were calculated. … Thirty-seven studies of low-moderate risk of bias were included. A history of one I-TOP was associated with increased unadjusted odds of LBW (OR 1.35, 95% CI 1.20-1.52) and PT (OR 1.36, 95% CI 1.24-1.50), but not SGA (OR 0.87, 95% CI 0.69-1.09). A history of more than one I-TOP was associated with LBW (OR 1.72, 95% CI 1.45-2.04) and PT (OR 1.93, 95% CI 1.28-2.71). Meta-analyses of adjusted risk estimates confirmed these findings. … A previous I-TOP is associated with a significantly increased risk of LBW and PT but not SGA. The risk increased as the number of I-TOP increased.

    Shah P, Ohlsson A, Shah V, Murphy KE, McDonald SD, Hutton E, Newburn-Cook C, Frick C, Scott F, Allen V, Beyene J., Induced termination of pregnancy and low birthweight and preterm birth: a systematic review and meta-analyses, BJOG. 2009 Oct;116(11):1425-42, Shah PS, Zao J; Knowledge Synthesis Group of Determinants of preterm/LBW births, Collaborators (11) Department of Paediatrics, Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, ON, Canada. pshah@mtsinai.on.ca PMID: 19769749 [PubMed –

  • ahunt

    Interesting. From what I can discern…the correlation between abortion and subsequent pregnancy complications is most frequently associated with D&C procedures. Some evidence exists that suction procedures are also associated with complications.

     

    However, 20 years of studies indicate that chemically induced abortion (mifepristone)  do not increase complication risks in subsequent pregnancies.

     

    Worth studying.

  • ahunt

    Bob Marshall has brought an out important issue…the need for ongoing research aimed at making abortion safer and less invasive.

     

    After all, it is highly unlikely that republicans will ever support public measures like mandatory pregnancy coverage, maternity leave, child care…etc.

     

    Thanks Bob.

  • marshall

    “In a study of 104 patients undergoing first-trimester abortion a fall in resistance was found in 12.5% of women in whom the cervix was dilated to 9 mm, and in 66.7% when dilatation reached 11 mm. … Physicians used as electronic force monitor to measure cervical resistance to dilatation in 104 pregnant women (gestation = or 12 weeks) who came to Danderyd Hospital in Danderyd, Sweden to undergo vacuum aspiration to induce abortion. … 61 women had children and 43 women had no children. Patients who dilated to 11 mm had a significantly higher risk of fall in resistance (indicative of a cervical tear of more than 2 mm) than those dilated to 9 mm (66.7% vs. 12.5%). The frequency of fall in resistance was essentially the same for both nulliparous and parous women. … The researchers did not know the clinical significance of a tear in the cervix, but some studies showed that women with a previous first-trimester abortion were at increased risk of second-trimester miscarriage and preterm delivery. … A wide cervical os has been linked to cervical incompetence.”

    [PubMed Summary]  Molin A, “Risk of damage to the cervix by dilatation for first-trimester-induced abortion by suction aspiration,” Gynecol Obstet Invest. 1993;35(3):152-4, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, Karolinska Institutet, Danderyd Hospital, Sweden.

  • ahunt
  • crowepps

    There is also a strong correlation between pregnancy and complications.

     

    “For 10 to 20 percent of pregnancies, however—about 875,000 a year in the United States alone—one or more conditions arise to complicate matters.

    http://www.healthsquare.com/fgwh/wh1ch25.htm

     

    Should we then ban pregnancy?

  • ahunt

    Strong=definite.

     

    Shit crowepps…why stop there? There is a definite correlation between sex and pregnancy.

  • crowepps

    There is a strong correlation between your heart beating and it wearing out eventually so that you die.  Let’s ban heartbeats as well.

  • marshall

    “The aim was to determine whether induced abortions could increase the risk of secondary infertility. … This was a case-control study; cases were women with secondary infertility, individually matched to two controls who were currently pregnant. … The data were analysed by conditional logistic regression. … The study took place in the Alexandra Maternity Hospital in Athens, Greece, in 1987-88. … 84 women consecutively admitted with secondary infertility and 168 pregnant controls took part. … Eight cases and no controls reported a previous ectopic pregnancy, confirming that the occurrence of a pregnancy of this type dramatically increases the risk of secondary infertility. Furthermore, the occurrence of either induced abortions or spontaneous abortions independently and significantly increased the risk of subsequent development of secondary infertility. The logistic regression adjusted relative risks (and 95% confidence intervals) for secondary infertility were 2.1 (1.1-4.0) when there was one previous induced abortion and 2.3 (1.0-5.3) when there were two previous induced abortions. Tobacco smoking significantly increased the risk of secondary infertility, the adjusted relative risk being 3.0 (1.3-6.8). … Legalised induced abortions, as currently practiced in Greece, appear to increase slightly the relative risk of secondary infertility.” 

    [PubMed Summary] Tzonou A, Hsieh CC, Trichopoulos D, Aravandinos D, Kalandidi A, Margaris D, Goldman M, Toupadaki N, “Induced abortions, miscarriages, and tobacco smoking as risk factors for secondary infertility,”  Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 1993 Feb;47(1):36-9. Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115.

  • marshall

    “The aim was to determine whether induced abortions could increase the risk of secondary infertility. … This was a case-control study; cases were women with secondary infertility, individually matched to two controls who were currently pregnant. … The data were analysed by conditional logistic regression. … The study took place in the Alexandra Maternity Hospital in Athens, Greece, in 1987-88. … 84 women consecutively admitted with secondary infertility and 168 pregnant controls took part. … Eight cases and no controls reported a previous ectopic pregnancy, confirming that the occurrence of a pregnancy of this type dramatically increases the risk of secondary infertility. Furthermore, the occurrence of either induced abortions or spontaneous abortions independently and significantly increased the risk of subsequent development of secondary infertility. The logistic regression adjusted relative risks (and 95% confidence intervals) for secondary infertility were 2.1 (1.1-4.0) when there was one previous induced abortion and 2.3 (1.0-5.3) when there were two previous induced abortions. Tobacco smoking significantly increased the risk of secondary infertility, the adjusted relative risk being 3.0 (1.3-6.8). … Legalised induced abortions, as currently practiced in Greece, appear to increase slightly the relative risk of secondary infertility.” 

    [PubMed Summary] Tzonou A, Hsieh CC, Trichopoulos D, Aravandinos D, Kalandidi A, Margaris D, Goldman M, Toupadaki N, “Induced abortions, miscarriages, and tobacco smoking as risk factors for secondary infertility,”  Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 1993 Feb;47(1):36-9. Department of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115.

  • crowepps

    It’s nice to know that Bob Marshall is concerned about retrieving his gaffe, and wants to try to cover up his assertion that “sinful mother equals handicapped child” but I certainly hope the costs for someone computer literate to cruise the nets and post this sort of drek in his name isn’t coming out of the Virginia taxpayer’s pocket.

  • crowepps