Getting to Know Your 2013 Virginia Republican Ticket: Mark Obenshain (Part 1)


    Of the three Virginia Republican 2013 statewide candidates, probably the least known at this point is Attorney General candidate Mark Obenshain. That’s not because he’s any less extreme than the other two – Ken Cuccinelli and EW Jackson – but he tends to be quieter about his far-right-wing views. Thus, Democratic AG candidate Mark Herring’s line about how Obenshain votes like Cuccinelli and EW Jackson talk.

    Anyway, I thought it might be interesting to focus on Obenshain a bit more, just to get a feel for who this guy is (behind the relatively quiet exterior). Something tells me this will be a multi-part series o’ crazy, but for now, we’ll focus mainly on Obenshain’s extreme views regarding restricting contraception and banning abortion.

    *A 2008 Washington Post article explained that Mark Obenshain is the sone of “the late Richard D. Obenshain…one of the architects of the modern-day GOP in Virginia.” Given how tinfoil-hat crazy the “modern-day GOP in Virginia” has become, that’s a frightening thought in and of itself. But wait, it gets worse.

    *That same Washington Post article noted that, “In the Senate, Obenshain often teams with Cuccinelli and other conservatives to battle moderate GOP leaders behind the scenes on social and economic issues.” Greeeeeeaaat, huh? Just what we need in the Virginia Attorney General’s office, another hard-right-winger who is so extreme, he can’t even get along with “moderate GOP leaders” like, I dunno, Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling? Gack.

    *A 2011 Richmond Times-Dispatch article said that Obenshain and Cuccinelli “are kindred conservative spirits who often voted alike on issues like abortion and school choice,” with Obenshain calling Cuccinelli “a principled and effective attorney general.” Riiiiight, if you define “effective” as being corrupt, as fighting for oil and gas companies against Virginia taxpayers and landowners, as being a puppet of extremist forces like the Koch brothers, of abusing the powers of his office to pursue a witch hunt against a UVA scientist (because Cuckoo’s a climate science denier – note that in a sane world, this ALONE would disqualify him from holding public office of any kind), of wasting Virginians’ hard-earned tax dollars in managing to lose case after case in court, etc. As for “principled,” I guess Cuccinelli has principles (e.g., discriminating against LGBT Virginians, waging war on Planned Parenthood, supporting the criminalization of abortion and common forms of contraception), they’re just completely wrong.

    *In 2007, Obenshain was a patron of legislation by “Sideshow Bob” Marshall that would amended the Virginia constitution to give “each born and preborn human being from the moment of fertilization” the “right to enjoyment of life.” From the “moment of fertilization?!?”  That’s right, this “personhood amendment” would criminalize: abortion at any stage and for ANY reason (e.g., rape, incest, the life and/or health of the mother); many forms of birth control; embryonic stem cell research. This is about as far out as you can get in American politics, and Mark Obenshain was right there cheering it on.

    *As much as Obenshain tries to deny it, the fact is that in 2009, he introduced legislation which “Requires that when a fetal death occurs without medical attendance upon the mother at or after the delivery or abortion, the mother or someone acting on her behalf, within 24 hours, report the fetal death, location of the remains, and identity of the mother to the local or state police or sheriff’s department of the city or county where the fetal death occurred.” In addition, “The bill…specifies that no one shall remove, destroy, or otherwise dispose of any remains without the express authorization of law-enforcement officials or the medical examiner, and that a violation of this section is a Class 1 misdemeanor.” That’s right, Obenshain pushed to criminalize miscarriages. Crazy AND dangerous, a wonderful combination, huh?

    *A 2003 Washington Times article discussed how JMU board member “Mark D. Obenshain moved that JMU stop selling levonorgestre” (“a synthetic hormone that is a contraceptive”). Obenshain’s “reasoning” (using the word loosely)? “‘One of the effects of the pill is to cause the destruction of a fertilized egg,’ he said. ‘Do people categorize that as having an abortion effect? Yes. Do I? Yes.'”

    Since Mark Obenshain appears to like rhetorical questions, how about this one: “Do Virginia voters agree with Obenshain’s out-of-the-mainstream views on contraception and abortion? No. Do we want this guy to be our next Attorney General? Certainly not!”


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