This morning, the Democratic Party of Virginia held a conference call to remind everyone of GOP Attorney General nominee Mark Obenshain’s time as a member of the James Madison University Board of Visitors, and specifically his crusade to ban birth control on campus. The call included two former JMU faculty members (Dr. Violet Allain, Debra Fitzgerald) and a current and former student (Carter Black Kai Degner, respectively). Also check out the video by the Mark Herring for AG campaign, in which Jamie from Arlington talks about the importance of the Virginia Attorney General’s race – and specifically, of defeating anti-women’s-reproductive-freedom extremist Mark Obenshain – to all women in the commonwealth.
Now, a few highlights from the conference call.
*Dr. Violet Allain said that, back in 2003 when Mark Obenshain was a member of the JMU Board of Visitors, he “made it his personal agenda to limit access to birth control on JMU’s campus.” Apparently, Obenshain “felt it was appropriate that he decide – not women or their doctors – what they should have access to on campus.” Allain added that in her 25 years as a faculty member, she never saw a Board of Visitor member be “more intrusive to the personal decision making of students.”
*Debra Fitzgerald said that Obenshain “has a long history of imposing his extreme views on others,” and “it seems as though enforcing his position was more important than allowing women to make their own health care choices.” Fitzgerald added that Obenshain’s actions made JMU students and faculty feel like “the Board of Visitors was prying into their personal lives,” and they “reacted really really strongly…students were very upset, as were parents, alumni, and people throughout the state and nation about this very extreme action.”
*Kai Degner said that Mark Obenshain’s actions on the JMU Board of Visitors “embarrassed our university and our community…made JMU a less desirable place for students to attend, and for employers or researchers to take seriously.” Degner recalled the “outrage at the Board’s decision.” He compared it to Ken Cuccinelli’s lawsuit against UVA, noting that “students don’t want their school to be dictated to by people imposing their radical beliefs.”
*Carter Black said it is “outrageous” on a campus that’s “60% female…to think that a member of the Board of Visitors, particularly a male, would work so hard to impose his extreme views on the university.” Black argued that “college students and women across Virginia should take note of what happened here in 2003, and imagine what our Commonwealth might look like if Mark Obenshain becomes Attorney General.”