Lawmaker Backs Off Remarks Calling Disabled Children God's 'Punishment'
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Virginia lawmaker Robert G. Marshall said babies born with disabilities are God's Old Testament wrath against women who aborted their first pregnancies.
Now he's experiencing a little Old Testament-style wrath himself -- while swearing he is penitent.
The Washington Post reports Marshall apologizes for comments he made Feb. 18 during a news conference calling for an end to his state's funding of Planned Parenthood.
"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 told the crowd.
According to the Post, outrage against Marshall has gone viral -- spread by social networking sites on the Internet and a petition demanding his resignation.
Many Christians are among the incensed.
One of them is Brett Wills of Staunton, Va., whose 8-year-old son has autism. "I am amazed that someone has been able to slander my child, my wife and my God in one comment," Wills tells the Post. "To imply that someone's disabilities are an act of God to punish women in an immoral society is just the most outrageous thing I've ever heard."
Marshall, a Republican who represents the Prince William area in the Virginia General Assembly, insists he is sorry.
The Post reports he issued a formal statement Feb. 15, apologizing for remarks that "conveyed the impression that I believe disabled children are a punishment for prior abortions." He added his words were "poorly chosen."
"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," he said in the statement.
Marshall also said his words were taken out of context, that he was talking about purported medical evidence about how the abortions of first-time pregnancies jeopardize later pregnancies. The Old Testament supports such research, he claimed.
"The point is, there are profound consequences to the act of abortion," Marshall tells the Post.
Jennifer McMillen, whose 8-year-old son has autism and cerebral palsy, tells the Post she doesn't care what Marshall [intended] to say. "His comments were inappropriate and unacceptable, and something needs to be done," she tells the paper.
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