Poorly Chosen Words

February 23, 2010

Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall sparked controversy recently with his remarks suggesting that disabled children were God's punishment for abortion. During a Virgina Christian Action press conference promoting a pro-life initiative, which is an attempt to remove state funding for Planned Parenthood, Marshall went off script and 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.
Not surprisingly, Marshall's comments sparked outrage and criticism. Even allies like Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who supports the pro-life effort Marshall was promoting, have denounced the comments. The attention to Marshall's remarks has overshadowed and harmed the initiative he was promoting. Marshall has now released a statement in which he declared, "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." Hopefully, this incident will serve as a reminder that "poorly chosen words" can undermine a larger effort.

UPDATE [2-25-10]: Marshall now claims he was misquoted and that he never said disabled children were God's punishment for an earlier abortion. He said it is wrong to assume that "nature" is the same as "God" in his remarks. But, what about the next part of his remarks? He says abortion is the opposite of dedicating the first-born to "the Lord" and that there is "a special punishment" for that. 1 + 1 = 2. He clearly is arguing that disabled children are "a special punishment" from "the Lord" for an abortion. He can try and spin this all he wants, but his best response would be to apologize and quit trying to defend his remarks. All he is doing is keeping the story alive and thus continuing to overshadow the pro-life initiative he supports.