|Times-Mirror Photo/Trevor Baratko
State Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26), the Republican nominee for attorney general, visited residents of Ashby Ponds retirement community in Ashburn Wednesday, a day after attorney general Ken Cuccinelli made the same stop. |
For the second time in as many days, a Republican seeking statewide office visited Ashby Ponds retirement community in Loudoun, and for the second time, the Virginia politician was forced to address controversial legislation relating to women's health.
On Wednesday it was state Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-26), the GOP's candidate for attorney general, who was asked by an older woman in the audience about so-called “personhood legislation” and his social views.
Inquired the woman: “Do you expect Virginians to believe your statements now about the personhood amendment and your stance on women's reproductive rights when you sponsored the personhood bill and then voted again for it in 2012, when you introduced a bill to require women to report miscarriages to the police, when you sponsored the fetal pain bill, when you called the transvaginal ultrasound bill 'common-sense' legislation – isn't there a huge credibility gap in what you're saying versus what you have focused your entire senate career on?”
Obenshain in 2007 was a sponsor of House Bill 2797. The bill, which died in the House of Delegates on a 43-53 vote, would've provided “that 'the right to enjoyment of life' guaranteed by [the Constitution of Virginia] is vested in each born and preborn human being from the moment of fertilization.” Many observers say the law would've restricted women's access to contraception.
Obenshain quickly replied to the woman, “Thank you, Mark,” apparently referring to his Democratic challenger, fellow state Sen. Mark Herring (D-33rd). Obenshain said he's running a campaign focused on the issues important to the people of the commonwealth – regulations, the economy and public safety. Occasionally, he said, reproductive rights issues will come up.
“I hear these kinds of charges in emails …” Obenshain said. “It's just grossly mischaracterizing ... my record, and it's frankly not focusing on what it is we're going to do for Virginia.”
On one facet of the woman's question, Obenshain said, “I'd sound like a pretty terrible person if I wanted to criminalize women who fail to report miscarriages. I don't, I never did and I never do.”
Obenshain said that specific proposal, which he eventually withdrew, stemmed from an instance in Virginia in which a young woman allegedly threw her dead baby in a Dumpster. The state senator said he was working to implement legislation that would protect newborns, but soon realized his legislation was too broad and struck it.
Off the topic of women's reproductive rights, Obenshain said combating elderly abuse and ensuring safe communities for children is his top priority. Both Obenshain and Herring have worked on legislation to curtail the financial and personal swindling of older Virginians.
“When you get down to it, the most important and basic responsibility of government is to make sure that we have safe communities, to make sure that you and I and our children and grandchildren are able to enjoy our communities safely,” Obenshain said.
The senator from Harrisonburg said a thorough review of state and federal regulations is needed to ensure the state's economy is vibrant. Obenshain supports drafting an economic analysis of all regulations.
“The number one job killer in America is over-regulation,” he said.
On the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act – Obamacare – Obenshain conceded there has long been a health care access problem in America. But he said he doesn't believe the new health care law is the solution.
“The alternative to Obamacare can't be nothing,” Obenshain said. “We have an obligation to make that sure we have an alternative. That we are addressing the access issues that exist with respect to our health care system.”
Obenshain opened up the program speaking about his political roots in the commonwealth. His father, Dick Obenshain, won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1978, defeating John Warner. However, Dick Obenshain was killed in a place crash shortly after winning the nomination, and the GOP selected Warner to replace him on the ticket. Warner went on to hold the senate seat for 30 years.
Sen. Obenshain's sister, Kate, is a contributor for Fox News and former chair of the Republican Party of Virginia.
On Tuesday, gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli made noteworthy comments at Ashby Ponds, saying he doesn't believe government should legislate birth control. Cuccinelli is a strong pro-life advocate and supported House Bill 2797 and a 2012 personhood proposal.