On February 18, Virginia Delegate Robert G. Marshall delivered remarks at a press conference held in the state capital in Richmond. The purpose of the press conference was to focus attention on the reasons why Planned Parenthood should not receive any state taxpayer funding. As you will hear from a subsequent statement Marshall delivered on the floor of the state house, all of the major Washington, D.C.-area media attended and not a single one of them arrived at the same comments attributed to Marshall three days later by the student-run Capital News Service.
However, four days after Marshall’s press conference, Newsleader.com ran with this headline: “Legislator: Disabled kids are God’s punishment.” The student reporter then goes on to quote Marshall verbatim:
“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."
At no time did Marshall insinuate, suggest or otherwise note that the children born after a mother’s abortion who happen to be disabled are a punishment from God.
One blogger, apparently concerned about the tragic misrepresentation created by the student reporter, quoted Marshall directly from his floor statement to the Virginia House of Delegates, which he was forced to make due to the publicity given to the false headline:
"If some want to make their own inference, that is their prerogative. However, they should acknowledge that is what they are doing," Marshall said. "It is no one's prerogative to claim I spoke words which never came from my mouth, have never been in my heart and have never been in my public record."
Marshall went on to say that of all the major media attending that press conference on February 18, not a single one quoted that horrendous statement because it was a statement never made! So what in the world is going on? Well, it should be obvious. When a man stands up to the culture of death, it will do all it can to cause him suffering of every kind.
On February 24, two days after the false headline had surfaced and been quoted ad nauseum, NBC News finally set the record straight. Its report details what occurred: The February 20 report by Virginia Commonwealth University’s Capital News Service put those horrifically inappropriate words into Delegate Marshall’s mouth, causing a firestorm of criticism that rained down on Marshall in a way similar to the stoning of sinners one reads about in the Bible!
The rush to judgment—immediately assuming that, in fact, the counterfeit quote was actually what Marshall said—resulted in several imprudent statements, including one by Virginia’s governor:
Gov. Bob McDonnell criticized Del. Robert G. Marshall, R-Prince William, for comments in which Marshall suggested that disabled children were a form of punishment for women who had abortions.
"They were wrong and offensive comments, and we should do everything we can for young children who are disabled and provide the best safety net we can," McDonnell said in an appearance on WTOP radio in Washington.
And just yesterday, even though the record has now been set straight and the facts have been reported, the tirades clearly aimed at destroying Marshall’s credibility continued. A News and Messenger editorial opined,
While one may argue that Del. Bob Marshall has been misrepresented in media accounts of remarks he made about abortion, it can't be disputed that he has put his foot in his mouth.
The hubbub is about whether Marshall said that children with disabilities were a punishment from God on women who abort their first child.
The original journalist who reported this as being the case stands by the reporting. Others have jumped on Marshall and harangued him for such a statement.
However, Marshall himself insists that what he said was misunderstood. The delegate said he was simply trying to point out statistics that indicate women who get abortions have "significant problems in their subsequent pregnancies."
Regardless, one thing is certain, Marshall has, once again, revealed how his religious views shape his legislative heart.
That's not necessarily a bad thing. Marshall has never really hidden his religious convictions and, given the fact that he is elected over and over again, we must imagine that his beliefs reflect those of his constituents, or at least don't present a problem for them. And this brouhaha makes another thing clear: When a legislator reveals his religious beliefs on a political subject, people get mad, perhaps rightfully so. After all, should religious belief underpin all the actions taken by our government? Some say yes, but others say no and complain that religion and governance should be separated by a thick wall. Needless to say, it is controversial.
In the end though, Marshall should be taken at face value. If he says he is being misunderstood, then he is.
The audacious editorial concludes,
[T]he real focus of this situation shouldn't be, "Did he or didn't he?" Rather, whether you believe what he said or what he meant to say, it's another example of him getting involved in some dispute that does nothing to improve the lives of his constituents.
And for that, we hold him completely responsible.
The blatant deception concerning words that did not come from Delegate Marshall has taken on a life of its own, which is indeed sad. One wonders how it is possible to put your foot in your mouth when it’s someone else’s foot entirely. Since when is that foot-in-mouth disease? What it is instead is a lie, pure and simple.
But, due to the fact that Marshall has faith in God, strives always for what is good and just, and is one of this nation’s leading experts on the sordid nature of Planned Parenthood’s efforts, he is maligned in yet another snide editorial, which was written by those who believe fiction rather than truth. When will it all end? How much longer will the cock-and-bull story carry on as though it were fact?
God knows, I sure don’t. But there are a few things I do know:
- Anyone who reads this commentary and wants to assure Delegate Marshall and his family of their prayers and best wishes can do so simply by visiting his web site and leaving comments: http://delegatebob.com/contact
- You are invited to post a comment to the editorial that perpetuates the myth by visiting its accompanying message board.
- It would be appreciated if you would send a message to Governor Bob McDonnell asking him to review the evidence and issue a public apology to Marshall for believing the fabrication created by college student Kelsey Radcliffe. Contact: https://www.governor.virginia.gov/Contact.cfm
What disturbs me the most about this entire fiasco is that, in the process of a concerted effort to distort an elected official’s public statements and fabricate innuendo out of thin air, the full impact of what Delegate Marshall did say has been lost. His message was and is that there is a link between abortion and increased risk of disabilities in the children of mothers who have aborted one of their children prior to carrying a child to term.
The link between abortion and preterm birth for future pregnancies has been documented countless times yet seldom reported on. In September 2009, Dr. Prakesh Shah released a meta-analysis in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology using data from 37 published studies.
The Shah meta-analysis found that one induced abortion increases the risk for preterm birth in a subsequent pregnancy by 36 percent. Two or more induced abortions increase that risk by 93 percent. One induced abortion increases the risk of low birth weight by 35 percent, and more than one induced abortion increases that risk to 72 percent.
The Mayo Clinic web site reports that complications of preterm birth may include:
Episodes of stopped breathing (apnea)
Bleeding in the brain (intracranial hemorrhage)
Fluid accumulation in the brain (hydrocephalus)
Cerebral palsy and other neurological problems
The fact of the matter is that abortion has major, undeniable consequences—one of which is the danger it poses to the future brothers and sisters of children killed by abortion. That is the only fact Marshall was attempting to set forth in the statement he presented to the media on February 18, four days before the fabricated statement even made its way to a web site or news report.
God forgive those who detest the truth so rapaciously that they will stoop to lying, putting words in the mouths of others and otherwise manifesting such a disdain for their fellow man that one must pity them in their agony.