MSNBC host Rachel Maddow on Monday assailed a series of recent moves in Virginia under new Gov. Bob McDonnell, citing the rising influence of the Christian right in exacerbating "discrimination" against gays and women.
Maddow was dumbstruck by state legislator Bob Marshall (R-Manassas), who declared Monday that children born with disabilities are God's "vengeance" for abortion, quoting scripture to make his case.
"The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children," Marshall said, according to the Capital News Service.
A speechless Maddow noted that Marshall stood by his remarks when contacted by her producers. "This is the argument he's using as an elected official to...cut off any state support for Planned Parenthood," she said.
Princeton professor Melissa Harris-Lacewell, who grew up in Virginia, called it a "stunning" and "frightening" statement by a lawmaker whose goal is to undermine women's rights, and who doesn't really understand Christian literature.
"What I'd like to do is go chapter and verse with Bob Marshall," she said. "He's got a little bit of theological explaining to do on the basic understanding of Biblical text."
McDonnell, a noted Christian conservative, has already vowed to block state funding for Planned Parenthood of America, a health care provider for reproductive, maternal and child services. The organization also advocates for abortion rights, which the governor is staunchly against.
Harris-Lacewell called the move unjust and "unacceptable" for women, pointing out that Planned Parenthood is also the primary care provider for millions of American women. "We need one standard of citizenship," she said.
Maddow also blasted McDonnell for "going out of his way" earlier this month to lift eliminate a years-old state ban on discriminating against existing and potential employees on the basis of sexual orientation, as the Washington Post reported.
"You can be fired from your job with the state for the simple fact that you are gay," said a flabbergasted Maddow. "That's legal in Virginia now."
The issue hits home for Maddow, who is openly gay and an outspoken supporter of gay rights. "Any state agency can put up Help Wanted ads now that say 'gays need not apply'," she said.
"I'm feeling a little bit like I want to scream right now," Harris-Lacewell said, claiming it could be a sign of things to come if Republicans win back control of Congress in November -- a scenario that's unlikely but not beyond the pale as GOP favorable ratings continue to tick up while Democrats founder.
Maddow and Harris-Lacewell partly linked the events to the ascendancy of the Christian right in Virginia. "Virginia's politics have taken an immediate, very hard right turn under the new governor," Maddow said.
McDonnell delivered the Republican response to President Obama's first State of the Union address last month, an opportunity that is typically reserved for the party's rising stars.
He came under fire during his gubernatorial campaign for his 20-year-old graduate thesis which, according to the Washington Post, "described working women as 'detrimental' to the traditional family."
This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Feb. 22, 2010.