The News Leader is reporting that a Virginia State Delegate said that some disabled children are punishments from God.

As you can imagine, his comments which were originally reported by The Gainesville Times are making the rounds quickly and setting off a firestorm. The News Leader reported:

State Delegate Bob Marshall of Manassas says disabled children are God’s punishment to women who have aborted their first pregnancy.

He made that statement Thursday at a press conference to oppose state funding for Planned Parenthood.

“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.”

But Virginia Delegate Bob Marshall is denying he made those comments.

I called Delegate Marshall earlier and he said “There’s no way I’d make that statement,” said Marshall. “I even asked the Washington Post reporter, “Did I say this?” and he said ‘no.'”

Marshall said “Nobody checks the facts and everyone’s taking the word of a reporter.”
He suggested that the reporter might even be an abortion activist.

The News Leader does however have an audio clip but it’s impossible to know if the two sentences were connected.

Dean Nelson of the Network of Politically Active Christians said he didn’t recall Bob Marshall making that statement. “There were over 50 people in that room including reporters from the AP, NBC as well as a lot of beat reporters and it seems to me that if Bob had said what this one reporter is saying then someone else would’ve noticed.”

Marshall said that the point he was trying to make was, “I specifically cited a study which shows that there are enormous complications from abortion and you can learn it from the Old Testament or check out the science.”

Marshall is a Catholic who wrote a book on abortion published by Ignatius Press in 1991 called “Blessed Are the Barren: The Social Policy of Planned Parenthood.”

Update: I emailed the reporter of the original article and asked for full audio. We’ll see if we get a response.

Update2: Bob Marshall released a statement concerning this issue:

A story by Capital News Service regarding my remarks at a recent press conference opposing taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood conveyed the impression that I believe disabled children are a punishment for prior abortions. 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.