Congressional Candidate Bob Marshall Is Basically the Culture War's Four-Star General

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Sometimes, conservative politicians have said things about women that they end up regretting later (see: Todd Akin). But Bob Marshall, Virginia candidate running for Congress, regrets almost nothing. That's according to an interview in the Washington Times, which walks through Marshall's history of remarks on disabled children (they can be God's punishment to women who have had abortions), incest (sometimes, it's "voluntary"), and the Supreme Court (Justice Kennedy is probably "a homosexual"). When asked about those controversial remarks, the candidate said, "I don’t care. I mean, if I say something in public, I say it in public." 

Marshall is running for a seat in the House of Representatives, after Republican Rep. Frank Wolf announced his retirement this term. Marshall currently serves in the Virginia General Assembly, and has gained some notoriety for his long track history of controversial remarks. As summed up by the Washington Times, here are those remarks, and his on-the-record responses to them in 2014. 

Year: 2013
Context: An address to an anti-abortion group, after the Kennedy-authored majority Supreme Court opinion on same-sex marriage. 
Quote: "For all I know, Kennedy’s a homosexual. You can’t be doing some of these things without this kind of conclusion.”
Defense: "Clearly, some of the people who are making these decisions must be rationalizing their own bad behavior." 

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Year: 2010
Context: An anti-Planned Parenthood press conference. 
Quote: "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... this is a special punishment, Christians would suggest." [here's the full video of those remarks, thanks to Right Wing Watch]
Defense: This one is a rare instance where the state legislator went ahead and apologized, kind of. At the time, Marshall issued a half-apology, stating that he "regret[s] any misimpression my poorly chosen words may have created," but argued that media reports of the press conference took his remarks out of context (this seems unlikely from the full video, however). He didn't address the remarks either way in the Times piece, aside from his overall insistence that he means what he says in public.

While the more egregious offense here is Marshall's insinuation that women who have had abortions are being "punished" by a deity, it's important to note that the scientific consensus thus far does not support the claim that abortions cause complications in future pregnancies. One recent, study did find some correlation between abortions and low birth weights in future pregnancies, but even the study's authors emphasized the fact that their work did not isolate abortion as the cause of that complication. 

Year: 1989
Context: An interview with a Boston Globe columnist, when Marshall was the research director of the American Life League. The columnist asked him about his stance against abortion, even in the case of incest and rape. 
Quote: “What if incest is voluntary? Sometimes it is.”
Defense: Marshall told the Times that he stands by his stance on abortion, and that he was just stating the way things are: "It doesn’t make it right or legal. It just gives the facts," he said. 

Marshall's first step to Congress is the April 26 primary in the state. He's facing off against his Virginia General Assembly colleague Barbara Comstock for the Republican nod. Democrats believe that the district is a possible pick-up for them in November. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.