Birth defects, handicaps and disabilities are — according to the apparently-religionist Virginia Delegate (legislator) Robert G. Marshall — caused by mothers having had prior abortions. The Washington Post reports on his primeval, Old Testament-style thinking (WebCite cached article):

Virginia Del. Robert G. Marshall apologized Monday to people with disabilities for remarks suggesting that women who have abortions risk having later children with birth defects as a punishment from God.

Marshall (R-Prince William) made the comment Thursday at a news conference calling for an end to state funding to 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 said.

“In the Old Testament, the firstborn of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord,” he added. “There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest — and with the knowledge that they have in faith, it’s been verified by a study from Virginia Commonwealth University — first abortions, of a first pregnancy, are much more damaging than later abortions.”

While it may seem Marshall’s point was scientifically supported, in fact, it was not:

The VCU study he referred to was published in 2008 in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health and suggested that there is a higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight in children born to women who have had an abortion.

The study did not say anything about “handicaps.” It mentioned only low birth weight and premature birth. Thus, this study’s content actually had nothing to do with Marshall’s claim.

Marshall has been veering away from these remarks since he said them, as the Post explains (cached):

Marshall, appearing shaken by criticism gone viral, said his remarks had been shortened in some news reports and twisted out of context. …

“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.”

Delegate, your words were in no way “taken out of context.” What you stated was that “handicaps” in subsequent children were a consequence of having had an abortion previously. Those are your words. The “context” does not change the meaning of those words. What the “context” also does not change is that the study you cited as support for your view, did not actually support it.

Thus, Delegate, your complaint that you “were taken out of context,” and the fact that you claimed scientific support that you did not really have, makes you a double “lying liar for Jesus.” Welcome to that club.

Hat tip: Religion Dispatches (which does a good job of explaining the errors in Marshall’s theology).

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