Democrats Attack Obenshain for Contraceptive Controversy

Posted: Updated: Sep 12, 2013 10:23 PM
Mark Obenshain Mark Obenshain

Virginia Democrats are dredging up issues a decade old in an attempt to sway voters before Election Day. 

It is campaign politics 101 - one party finds a past controversial issue and turns it into a new political attack.

In this case, Democrats want to school voters on a controversy at James Madison University.  In 2003, Mark Obenshain helped push the school to take emergency contraceptive - commonly known as Plan B or the morning-after pill - off school shelves.

Thousands of students signed petitions opposing the move after the board of visitors voted to stop selling the pill. Obenshain, who served on the board, said a public university should not provide access to what some referred to as an "abortion agent."

Former JMU faculty member Dr. Violet Allain says Obenshain and other board members went too far.

"He felt it was appropriate that he decide - not women or their doctors - what they should have access to on campus," Allain said. "At this point I was a faculty member for more than 25 years, and I never saw a board of visitor be more intrusive to the personal decision-making of students."

The Obenshain campaign says efforts to dig up the past amount to little more than partisan attacks. Paul Logan, spokesperson for the Obenshain campaign, commented Thursday. 

"Members of the JMU Board of Visitors, including Republican and Democratic appointees, made the decision that Plan B was readily available at nearby drug stores and that it was not necessary for the school health center to provide it. Students continued to have access to contraception in the Student Health Center and Mark supported that. This is yet another partisan attack in an attempt to distract attention from Mark Herring's flailing campaign," said Logan. 

Obenshain and Herring will meet for at least one more live debate in October.