Judging by the coverage, the Washington Post thinks a pro-life Republican state senator's sharply-worded rebuke of abortion-rights absolutists is twice as newsworthy as an ethically-challenged nominee to the Democratic governor's Cabinet.
How else do you explain the 16 paragraphs which Post staffer Rachel Weiner devoted to Virginia State Sen. Stephen Martin (R) compared with a mere eight paragraphs to Gov. Terry McAuliffe's (D) pick to head the state commerce department, Maurice Jones? Mr. Jones, Weiner noted citing an inspector general's report, "appears to have violated anti-lobbying law as well as internal HUD policy" when he was the deputy secretary for the federal department of Housing and Urban Development.
For their part, Post editors buried the story about Jones on page B5 of the February 26 edition, slapping on a snoozer of a headline, "Concern about McAuliffe pick."
By contrast, at the top left of page B4 of the Wednesday edition, editors hyped Weiner's story regarding Martin. "Senator assailed for antiabortion quip" blared the headline. "Republican uses 'host' sarcastically to describe pregnant women."
But while the Jones matter is one touching on ethics and suitability for a position of public trust in the Commonwealth, the controversy over Martin's comments are completely locked into the Left's meme about the "war on women," with pro-choice groups seizing on them as a cynical fundraising ploy.
Interestingly enough, Martin's ostensibly offensive comment was prompted by his disgust at another abortion-rights lobby publicity stunt, a valentine card which "asked him to give up his opposition to abortion," as Weiner reported.
It was then that Martin took to Facebook to skewer the group for treating women as mere "host[s]" of a fetus rather than mothers of unborn human beings worthy of dignity.
To her credit, Weiner did explain Martin's side of the story, although she then gave the pro-abortion lobby and sympathetic liberal Democrats plenty of ink to sell their overwrought outrage:
Martin’s Feb. 17 post responded to a valentine from the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition that asked him to give up his opposition to abortion.
“I don’t expect to be in the room [nor] will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive,” Martin wrote. “However, once a child does exist in your womb, I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child’s host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it.”
Martin said that his words were taken out of context and that he was trying to describe the way abortion advocates see women. Democrats and liberal activists said the comment was illustrative of how antiabortion lawmakers really think.
“This statement demonstrates a total lack of respect for women and a lack of respect for their bodies,” said state Sen. Barbara A. Favola (D-Arlington), one of four senators who spoke against Martin’s comments.
“I’ve been called by a lot of titles in my life, but I’ve never been called a host,” Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) chimed in.
Although some of the senators acknowledged that Martin might have been trying to be humorous, they said that wasn’t reason enough to give him a pass.
“Charitably, I can say that this kind of comment is snide and doesn’t get us anywhere,” Sen. Mamie E. Locke (D-Hampton) said. “Frankly, it’s misogynistic or demeaning.”
Sen. L. Louise Lucas (D-Portsmouth) agreed: “His remarks may have been a joke . . . but it underscores the point: He simply has no idea what he’s talking about.”
Planned Parenthood of Virginia and NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia sent several women to the Senate gallery wearing T-shirts that declared, “Not A Host.”
It was an unusual public shaming in a body that prides itself on civility and camaraderie despite ideological differences. But in recent years, abortion politics have led to some of the most-heated debates in Virginia’s General Assembly.
Martin supported legislation that requires women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion, as well as tougher regulations for clinics that perform abortions. An attempt to repeal the ultrasound requirement passed the Senate this session but failed in a House committee.
“They represented the opposite of what I actually said,” Martin said after the floor speeches. The Facebook post “was me playing back their argument.” As the grandfather or brother of six women with children, he said, “I consider them to be mothers.”
Since women’s groups began highlighting Martin’s comments Monday, he has adjusted the post to take out the controversial line.
“The point . . . was to point out they are not ‘hosts.’ They are mothers. Mothers are a critically important lynchpin of society,” he explained. “The lesson to be learned here is that where an offense is sought it can be found.”