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

Rachel Larris

Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall, trying to end all state funding of Planned Parenthood, offers a Biblical explanation for why children are born handicapped: God is punishing women for their sins.

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."

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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.

Sincerely,

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

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