Home 2013 races NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Responds to Sen. Obenshain’s Latest ‘Miscarriage’ Denials

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Responds to Sen. Obenshain’s Latest ‘Miscarriage’ Denials

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NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia catches Mark Obenshain in a lie, which is sadly not surprising coming from the Big Lie Ticket of Ken Cuccinelli and his “clones.”

GOP candidate for Attorney General has repeatedly denied knowledge of the implications of his own bill to criminalize miscarriage

On NPR’s Kojo Nnamdi Show broadcast Friday morning, Sen. Mark Obenshain once again attempted to rewrite his extreme record of attacking women’s health and personal decisions, including his 2009 bill to require Virginia women who suffer a miscarriage to report it to police within 24 hours.  Such a bill would have put all women who lose a pregnancy under suspicion from law enforcement and would have constituted a gross invasion of personal privacy and dignity.

After admitting that he had “crafted” the legislation, Obenshain claimed that it was “never my intention” to introduce such a callous bill. He stated that it was only after the bill’s introduction that he realized its devastating implications: “When it was introduced I realized that it was grossly over broad.”  

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, questioned Sen. Obenshain’s claim on Friday, noting that the candidate for Virginia’s top lawyer should have had at least a basic understanding of the impact of his own legislation:

“In 2009, Sen. Obenshain introduced a simple, two paragraph bill. Its intent was clear: to invade the personal lives of Virginia women who suffer tragic pregnancy complications and put them under suspicion of criminal behavior. Now faced with statewide scrutiny, Obenshain is attempting to claim ignorance of the implications of his own bill – a bill he admits to ‘crafting.’ We’re left with two equally troubling possibilities: Either Sen. Obenshain truly intended to make miscarriage a potential crime in the Commonwealth, or the candidate for Virginia’s top attorney did not understand the natural, clear implications of his own personally-crafted legislation.”

Background on SB 926, Obenshain bill to criminalize miscarriage:

2005: Del. John Cosgrove of Chesapeake introduces HB1677, a bill to require Virginia women to report instances of fetal death to law enforcement within 12 hours.

* Bill states that failure to do comply with law would result in a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.  

* Cosgrove pulls the bill on Jan. 12, 2005 after intense public backlash generates at least 500 personal emails and over 17,000 blog hits on the subject.

* Sen. Mark Obenshain is in the Senate at the time.

2009: Sen. Mark Obenshain introduces SB962, an almost identical bill to require Virginia women to report instances of fetal death to law enforcement within 24 hours. In addition, his bill also requires the woman to reveal her identity to police and prohibits her from destroying “fetal remains” without express permission from law enforcement.

* Bill states that failure to do comply with law would result in a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a maximum penalty of 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine.  

* Virginians react with shock and outrage that this egregious bill has been re-introduced. Virginian Lawyers Weekly reports that “Sen. Mark D. Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, made himself a lightning rod for criticism by introducing a bill that would require a woman to report her miscarriage to police within 24 hours.” (1/26/09)

*  Sen. Obenshain pulls the bill on Jan 29, 2009. He later claims he had “no knowledge” of public backlash, and that criticism from Virginians in no way motivated his decision.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    Mark Obenshain is a lawyer, a partner in Lenhart-Obenshain. Yet, he wants us to believe, “that it was only after the bill’s introduction that he realized its devastating implications: ‘When it was introduced I realized that it was grossly over broad.’ ” Are we supposed to believe that a practicing lawyer didn’t know the import of his own bill. That’s bulls**t.

    Among other reasons not to vote for him (and they are many), he obviously knows very little about his chosen profession. He has declared himself unqualified to be the lawyer for the Commonwealth.

  • jackieh

    Mark Obenshain is a nightmare we cannot allow to become our next AG.  In fact, we cannot allow this terrifying trio to win the elections.  The Dems have to get to the polls and elect candidates who respect women and their rights.  This suggestion that women should report a spontaneous miscarriage to the POLICE is reprehensible.  This is like Taliban oppression on women.  These idiots will have us dressing in burkas, take away our drivers’ licenses, and treat us like chattel.  We must GOTV for the Democratic slate in November.

    I am delighted to see our materialistic Governor Ultrasound feeling the effects of a probe.  Too bad it is just on paper.