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Virginia GOP Candidate: No Incest Exception For Abortion, Because Sometimes Incest Is Voluntary

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Robert Marshall has been a member of the Virginia House of Delegates since winning election 1991, is among the group of candidates vying for the the Republican nomination for the Congressional seat being vacated by Republican Frank Wolf, and to put mildly he is very radical when it comes to the issue of abortion:

A Republican candidate running for an open seat in Congress representing Virginia has defended his stance against abortion in all cases by stating that even incest can sometimes be “voluntary,” according to The Washington Times.

Bob Marshall, who is running for the seat being vacated by retiring Rep. Frank Wolf (R- VA10), explained in an interview with the Boston Globe in 1989 that he wouldn’t make exceptions for abortions, even in the case of rape and incest, stating: “What if incest is voluntary? Sometimes it is.”

Marshall, a senior Republican member of the Virginia General Assembly, has a history of making colorful statements that may come back to haunt him in the upcoming election, but he insists they are not gaffes.

“I don’t care. I mean, if I say something in public, I say it in public,” Mr. Marshall said Thursday.

Speaking to a pro-life group last year, Marshall discussed Justice Anthony M. Kennedy’s majority opinion in the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, adding at the end: “For all I know, Kennedy’s a homosexual.”

“You can’t be doing some of these things without this kind of conclusion,” he added.

Defending his comment, he recently said, “Clearly, some of the people who are making these decisions must be rationalizing their own bad behavior.”

(…)

In 2010, Marshall called for an end to state funding for Planned Parenthood, and suggested that women who have abortions are more likely to face “vengeance” from “nature” in the form of children being born with developmental disabilities.

“The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion who have handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” Marshall said.

Faced with criticism over those remarks, Marshall partially walked back the statement.

“No one who knows me or my record would imagine that I believe or intended to communicate such an offensive notion,” he explained afterward. “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.”

Marshall was also one of the primary sponsors of the bill that would have mandated transvaginal ultrasounds prior to all abortions in Virginia as well as the co-sponsor of the Marshall-Newman Amendment, the Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage which Virginia voters ratified in 2006 and which was recently declared unconstitutional by a Federal District Court Judge. So, on some level I suppose, Marshall’s comments here are entirely consistent with his beliefs and his previous behavior. Additionally, I suppose that one does have to give him credit for some intellectual honesty here in that, unlike most pro-life people, he does not accept the idea of allowing abortions in the case of incest. On some level, the idea of such an exception doe seem logically inconsistent with the basic tenants of the pro-life position, after all. (Although it’s not a position with which I personally agree.)

As for the race for the Republican nomination in the 10th District goes, though, statements like this are not going to help Marshall’s already dubious candidacy. For the most part Virginia’s Republican establishment has united behind Barbara Comstock, another member of the House of Delegates from Northern Virginia who doesn’t have nearly the kind of record of public statements that Marshall does. While the nominee will be chosen via a “firehouse primary” rather than a full traditional primary, it seems highly unlikely that Marshall will even come close to winning the nomination. If by some chance he did, though, he’d clearly lose the election in November. Indeed the GOP is going to have a fight on its hands keeping that seat even with Comstock as the nominee. In any case, perhaps Marshall’s defeat, combined with Ken Cuccinelli’s in 2013, will teach the Virginia GOP base a lesson, namely that they aren’t going to win elections with people like that on the ballot.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Hal_10000 says:

    We’ve reached the logical end of pursuing a pro-Life philosophy without any concession to practicality or the messiness of reality: no abortions for anyone ever for any reason. A few years ago, they were dropping rape. Now it’s incest. Pretty soon it will be life of the mother as well.

    Despite being pro-choice, I’m somewhat sympathetic to the pro-Lifers on the issue. I think the POV of most pro-lifers is a lot closer to the middle of the road than pro-choicers think. Most would accept legal abortion in the first trimester, for example. But their side has become dominated by nutballs like this this who will concede nothing to reality or to the half of the country that is pro-choice. That tends to happen when you think God is on your side.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 0

  2. al-Ameda says:

    If America had a Taliban, Robert Marshall would be an important person in the Taliban.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  3. Tillman says:

    On some level, the idea of such an exception does seem logically inconsistent with the basic tenants of the pro-life position, after all.

    One of the few pro-life creeds I’ve found logically consistent was the Catholic consistent life ethic, which also advocates against the death penalty and, in probably the best versions, pacifism.

    @Hal_10000:

    But their side has become dominated by nutballs like this this who will concede nothing to reality or to the half of the country that is pro-choice. That tends to happen when you think God is on your side.

    God wills it!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  4. gVOR08 says:

    OK, first the obligatory – Where do Republicans find these people? And why?

    …one does have to give him credit for some intellectual honesty here…

    Only if by “intellectual honesty” you mean consistent in his veiled religious belief.

    Had he said “God takes his vengeance” instead of “nature takes its vengeance” he’d get some points for honest.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  5. Ron Beasley says:

    “at least he’s consistently nuts”.

    The sad thing is he also gets consistently re-elected which doesn’t speak well for the country or the Republican Party.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  6. alanstorm says:

    @Ron Beasley:

    I wouldn’t go throwing those particular stones, glass-house dweller, unless you think Harry Reid, Alan Grayson, Babs Boxer, Nacy Pelosi, Patty Murray, “Dick” Durbin et al reflect well on the Democrats. I don’t think they do, but I think they DO reflect accurately.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 32

  7. Scott says:

    Additionally, I suppose that one does have to give him credit for some intellectual honesty here in that, unlike most pro-life people, he does not accept the idea of allowing abortions in the case of incest. On some level, the idea of such an exception doe seem logically inconsistent with the basic tenants of the pro-life position, after all.

    Yes, this is where the logic goes. Does a child conceived through incest or rape have any less right to live? This is the logical conclusion. It is also why I can’t get the the point that a fertilized egg (implanted or not) is considered a human being?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  8. Ben says:

    Honestly, as a pro-choicer, I’ve always found it hard to understand how pro-lifers rationalize exceptions for rape or incest. I mean, if you truly believe that a zygote is a living human being, and that abortion is murder, then why would the circumstances of the conception change it to not-murder? To my mind, if you really are pro-life and believe in zygotic personhood, then you should be against any exceptions that allow abortions, since it’s all murder (excepting life-of-the-mother, since that’s kinda like killing in self-defense).

    I disagree with it all and will always be stridently pro-choice, but if you’re going to be pro-lifer, then that stance at least makes logical and “moral” sense.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 19 Thumb down 1

  9. DrDaveT says:

    the basic tenants of the pro-life position

    The pro-life position charges rent?

    (Apologies if this was merely a typo, I know that spelling flames are considered nekulturny.)

    On-topic, though, I come out about where HAL_10000 does. I think you have to be somewhat ignorant and somewhat indoctrinated to believe that abortion is homicide — but if you do, then the rest of the package follows pretty relentlessly.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  10. Matt Bernius says:

    @DrDaveT:
    Spelling trolling is really the lowest form of the art. ;P

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  11. @Ron Beasley: To be fair, he only got 51.33% of the vote in the last election, which may be why he’s trying to run for Congress.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  12. C. Clavin says:

    @alanstorm:
    Really? I’m just dying to hear how any of those folks is advocating for anything near this asinine.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

  13. gVOR08 says:

    @DrDaveT: None of these people are honest. The egg is alive, the sperm is alive, the fertilized egg is alive, the implanted fertilized egg is alive. When did “life” begin? When did “human life” begin? Purely semantic arguments. The biology is clear. The word “life” is not. The people who are sure are sure because they think they know when god “created” a life, i.e. when he gave it a soul(*). Even this guy is bright enough to not say so. They avoid saying it, with the occasional slip, because it’s then clearly a matter of religious belief.
    _______________
    * Protestant theology mostly used to hold that “life” began at birth, not conception. Somehow this changed after abortion became a profitable issue. Remember the huge protests when SCOTUS announced Roe v Wade? Me neither, and I’m old enough. Didn’t happen. Wasn’t that controversial until later.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  14. Mikey says:

    Marshall also said disabled children are a punishment for women having abortions.

    He tried to run from it later, but the video at the link shows quite clearly he was not “misunderstood.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  15. Paul L. says:

    How dare you judge what two condensing adults who love each other.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  16. Hal_10000 says:

    @Ben:

    I’ve long thought that and it seems the pro-lifers are trying to be more consistent about it, which leads to the current mess. The problem is that life is messy and complicated and you can’t just stake out absolute principles and follow them no matter what.

    The Hyde Amendment allows the government to pay for abortion in case of rape and incest. if you keep the legal window open long enough, the issue should not be a problem.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Rafer Janders says:

    “The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion who have handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the firstborn of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” Marshall said.

    Because SCIENCE!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  18. Rafer Janders says:

    So, on some level I suppose, Marshall’s comments here are entirely consistent with his beliefs and his previous behavior.

    You know who else’s comments were entirely consistent with his beliefs and his previous behavior….?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  19. KM says:

    @Ben:

    Honestly, as a pro-choicer, I’ve always found it hard to understand how pro-lifers rationalize exceptions for rape or incest.”

    Because of the underlying moral logic. You must remember that they believe there is a very strong component of righteousness/sinfulness associated with the action. The action is unsavory, horrible, detestable….. therefore, anything (or anyone) associated with it must be too by the transitive property. Victim blaming at its finest. Therefore, a child of rape or incest is tainted by the sinfulness of the initial action. Sinful people are less then the righteous. Not so long ago, the marital status of your parents affected your legal & social standing as a person and your rights under the law in many cultures around the world. Through no fault of your own, you are considered damaged goods or tainted by your conception for your entire life (and maybe your posterity too even if they were born in wedded bliss). You are simply worth less in life as you are seen as worthless in a moral context. What we see here is that thought process in the modern era.

    People find these crimes abhorrent and are far more likely to feel sympathy for the victim. It’s very hard to find someone who doesn’t recoil at the negatives these acts bring. Or at the very least understand society thinks you’re a complete monster if you don’t. The exemptions exist because people don’t want to be seen as despicable for heaping misery on a victim so they violate the integrity of their ideology and make an exception “for the extremes”. In the process, they declare that some lives are worth more then others, the nature of your conception matters, and that it’s not really “baby killing” in this particular case. The cog dis is strong – it’s just choosing which abomination to them they find less distasteful.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  20. Grewgills says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    You know who else’s comments were entirely consistent with his beliefs and his previous behavior….?

    Jesus?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Rob in CT says:

    Wow, that’s impressive failure. I mean, not only getting the overall issue wrong, as nearly half the country does ( ;) ), but the explanation for it is breathtakingly bad. As are the comments about Justice Kennedy.

    I’m one of those who thinks “pro-lifers” who favor incest/rape exceptions are being inconsistent (the fetus didn’t rape anybody, therefore if fetuses are people with rights a fetus resulting from rape should have the same rights as any other fetus). That said, as KM lays out above, I get why some people can’t be consistent about it – actually having public policy that refuses to allow abortions for rape victims is a bridge too far for many people who just want to prevent slutty mcsluts from having abortions for reasons they find insufficient. This… this is something beyond that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  22. rodney dill says:

    @Paul L.: Makes sense if you prefer precipitation over copulation…. ;)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  23. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I think the POV of most pro-lifers is a lot closer to the middle of the road than pro-choicers think. Most would accept legal abortion in the first trimester, for example.

    I don’t think that statement makes a whole lot of sense. Accepting legal abortion in the first trimester is practically the definition of pro-choice–according to overwhelming consensus on both sides of the aisle. I’m sure there are people who refer to themselves as “pro-life” despite holding that position, but they are using a wildly nonstandard definition of the term. The pro-life movement as a whole backs stuff like the Human Life Amendment which state that life begins at conceptions. Probably most pro-lifers accept the life-of-the-mother exception, and many politicians add rape and incest to the list. I’m willing to grant that people who admit other exceptions that aren’t talked about a lot (say, abortions to prevent non-life-threatening impact on a woman’s health) while opposing legal abortion in general, still qualify as pro-life. But any legal abortion in the entire first trimester? Please. Name me one prominent pro-life activist who takes that position, and we can talk.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  24. Grumpy Realist says:

    Oh for the uterine replicator…

    I’m one of those people who thinks that abortion is often the least messy solution to a situation that has nothing but messy paths leading from it.

    I also don’t see how you can rant about unmarried mothers and the turn around and have a snit-fit about abortion.

    Maybe we should allow everyone the ability to dump off their children at orphanages or give them up for adoption at any age. If it became more acceptable for married women to give up for adoption babies they knew they couldn’t care of financially and didn’t want beforehand, there would be less demand for abortions.

    Oh, and let’s not think that a woman who makes a decision under the influence of post-birth hormones should have the duty of parenthood imposed on her. Contacts aren’t considered valid when consented to under the influence of drugs. Neither should parental duties be.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  25. C. Clavin says:

    @Grumpy Realist:

    I also don’t see how you can rant about unmarried mothers and the turn around and have a snit-fit about abortion.

    Oh c’mon…sure you can. You’re not even really surprised.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  26. al-Ameda says:

    @alanstorm:

    Babs Boxer

    I think her name is Barbara.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 1

  27. Grumpy Realist says:

    @C. Clavin: I probably should restate that as “I don’t see how you can create a culture that shames unmarried pregnancies and turn around and have a snit-fit about there being a demand for abortion.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  28. Mu says:

    Many give the pro-lifers too much moral credit. It’s not about life (easily shown by the high nunber of pro life- pro death penalty advocates), it’s about control. To them, the right to abortion is the ultimate get out of jail free card, which has to be utterly destroyed to maintain the moral stand of the 19th century. Unable to enforce stoning to death for unlicensed sex, having to have an unwanted baby is the only threat left to them to impose their views in a society that has embraced secular laws and ignores the patriarchal order of old.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  29. Hal_10000 says:

    @Kylopod:

    “Accepting legal abortion in the first trimester is practically the definition of pro-choice–according to overwhelming consensus on both sides of the aisle. ”

    If a state proposed to outlaw abortion after the first trimester, I have no doubt that would be denounced a pro-life “War on Women” thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  30. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08:

    None of these people are honest.

    You’re about 3 mm from stark paranoia there. “Never attribute to malice anything adequately explained by ignorance or stupidity”. Some people really are dupes.

    The biology is clear.

    To anyone who has studied modern biology, and then thought carefully about its implications for various philosophical and religious positions, yes. What does that have to do with 99% of the people we’re talking about?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  31. Kari Q says:

    @Hal_10000:

    Maybe but that’s not really relevant to your claim that most pro-lifers have no problem with abortion in the first trimester. I wouldn’t be surprised to find that there are some people who call themselves pro-life while believing first trimester abortion should still be legal, but I would be very surprised to find that a majority of the pro-life feel that way.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  32. OzarkHillbilly says:

    By their definition, God is a mass murderer. Why then do they worship him?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. bk says:

    @al-Ameda:

    I think her name is Barbara.

    My guess is that he calls President Obama “Barry”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  34. Kylopod says:

    @Hal_10000:

    If a state proposed to outlaw abortion after the first trimester, I have no doubt that would be denounced a pro-life “War on Women” thing.

    How does that in any way confirm your statement about what most pro-lifers believe? In the decades since Roe v. Wade, pro-lifers have tried to work around the decision to create restrictions on such issues as federal funding and late-term abortion, but that doesn’t mean they accept legal abortion in the first trimester; all it means is that practical realities keep them from fulling implementing their agenda. Once again, I challenge you to mention one single member-in-good-standing of the pro-life movement who accepts legal abortion in the first trimester. I doubt you can, but even then that still wouldn’t come close to supporting your claim that most pro-lifers feel that way. Why don’t you just admit your original statement was silly?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  35. anjin-san says:

    @ alanstorm

    Babs Boxer

    And you wonder why you don’t have any luck with women…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0