Herring has described the Harrisonburg state senator as one-third of a Republican statewide ticket that is too “extreme” for Virginia.
“He knows that when voters learn the truth, they will never support him,” Herring said.
“This is the kind of legislation that he wants people to try to not see.”
But Obenshain countered that the legislation did not come close to becoming law because he pulled it from consideration, and he said Herring was using the bill as a distraction from economic issues.
“The way it’s being framed is it is an accusation that it is what I wanted, when, in fact, because of the way it was going to work, I demonstrated that it was not what I wanted by striking it,” Obenshain said.
The debate on the legislation’s details underscores the importance of the attorney general’s office — often a final arbiter of new regulations and a launching pad to the governor’s mansion.
The dispute continues to swirl amid revelations that Republican lieutenant governor nominee E.W. Jackson concluded that Planned Parenthood has been worse for African Americans than the Ku Klux Klan and attacks by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who has called on the GOP to stop its “attack on women,” a reference to legislation last year that would have required transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions.
Obenshain, who is on a statewide ticket with Jackson and gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli II that opposes abortion, said he proposed the legislation at the request of a constituent and cast the miscarriage-reporting requirement as an unintended consequence.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Marsha Garst said she asked Obenshain for the bill in response to a 2008 case in which a woman said her child was stillborn and threw the body in the trash.
The body was not found, and authorities could not confirm the woman’s story.
“It was frustrating,” Garst recalled. “There was no way to prove whether, indeed, her contentions were true. And there was never anything to disprove it. Anybody could say their baby was stillborn and dispose of a live child. . . . To prove foul play, you need a body. That was the goal in speaking with Mr. Obenshain.”
Obenshain said that his intent was to protect newborns but that when he saw a draft of the proposal ahead of the legislative session, he knew it was “clearly flawed and over-broad.”
He said he withdrew the bill after being unable to revise it.
But Herring said the bill is part of a pattern reflecting what he called Obenshain’s “radical position at the expense of Virginia women.”