By Caitlin Bancroft, Legal Intern
This year the Republican Party has nominated three extreme and unapologetic anti-choice politicians to run for state-wide office (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General). All of these candidates are unwavering in their attempts to restrict Virginian women’s health and rights — and in order to give each of them the proper introduction that they deserve, we will take them on one at a time. This is the first of a series of blog posts about the candidates for statewide office and their dubious, dangerous, and frankly frightening anti-choice track records. Without further ado ladies and gentleman, I am proud to introduce you to the men intent on legislating your bodies: Ken Cucinelli, E. W. Jackson and Mark Obenshain!
Today we will focus on Mr. Mark Obenshain, the republican nominee for Attorney General of Virginia. The office of the Attorney General is incredibly important – the AG is the highest ranking attorney in the Commonwealth, and he/she is responsible for not only representing the state in the courtroom, but also for providing legal advice on the constitutionality of legislation and regulations to lawmakers and government officials. Over the past four years we have witnessed how current anti-choice attorney general Ken Cuccinelli used this power to advance his extreme anti-choice agenda; among other examples of institutional overreach, he bullied the Virginia Board of Health into imposing stricter regulations on abortion providers (TRAP) that could force the majority of the Commonwealth’s women’s health centers to close their doors. And – you guessed it – Mark Obenshain is more than happy to follow in Cuccinelli’s extreme anti-choice footsteps.
Mark Obenshain has been a member of the Virginia senate for the last ten years. During his decade in Richmond, Obenshain he has never received more than a 0% pro-choice voting record from NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia. In addition to voting against virtually every pro-choice bill introduced during his tenure, Obenshain has come out strongly in support of mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds, outrageous clinic regulations, limitations on birth control and increased restrictions for minors attempting to access comprehensive medical care. What’s worse — his abysmal voting record doesn’t even compare to the ludicrous statutes he sponsored. In 2007 Obenshain co-patroned H.B. 2797, a “Personhood” bill that defined personhood as beginning at conception and granted “personhood” status and legal rights to fertilized eggs. If passed, H.B. 2797 would have banned abortion without exception – even in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the life of the woman and possibly outlawed many common forms of birth control such as the pill and IUDs!
But apparently, attempting to ban birth control was not enough for Mark Obenshain, who in 2009 introduced such an atrocious piece of legislation that he was forced to withdraw it himself (after immense public backlash). House Bill 962 would have criminalized miscarriage by requiring every Virginian woman to report a miscarriage of pregnancy to the police within 24 hours — and hand over any “fetal remains” to the cops. If a woman failed to notify the authorities within this strict time-frame she would be guilty of a first degree misdemeanor and under threat of up to a year in jail or a $2500 fine. Yes – you read the right. Approximately 1 in 5 know pregnancies will end in miscarriage. Yet even though thousands Virginian women will suffer a miscarriage at some point in their lives, Mark Obenshain sought to compound this tragic occurrence with a CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION.
I believe strongly that if he were fully cognizant of the emotional and physical realities of pregnancy, Obenshain would never have even considered legislation to threaten grieving women with jail time. As a man running to be the legal voice of the Commonwealth, it is wholly disturbing that Obenshain has repeatedly introduced and supported legislation designed to actively discriminate against, undermine, and restrict Virginian women.
We cannot elect Mark Obenshain as Attorney General of Virginia. That’s why it is so important that Virginia’s pro-choice majority make our voices heard on November 5th! Make sure you’re ready and registered to vote, and stay tuned as we introduce you to the rest of this extreme anti-choice ticket!