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Virginia Republican labels pregnant women as 'hosts'

A Virginia state lawmaker responded to a pro-choice group on Facebook, calling pregnant women a "child’s host."
Sen. Stephen Martin, R-Chesterfield, gestures during a procedural move, Jan. 28, 2013 in Richmond, Va.
Sen. Stephen Martin, R-Chesterfield, gestures during a procedural move, Jan. 28, 2013 in Richmond, Va.

In response to a letter from a pro-choice group, a Virginia state senator referred to pregnant women as a "child's host," adding that "some refer to them as mothers."

Republican state Sen. Steve Martin received a Valentine's Day letter with the subject line reading "Don't break our hearts" from the Virginia Pro-Choice Coalition. The group told the lawmaker they were "disappointed" in his voting record on women's health care.

"If it's your expectation that I should support such nonsense, I will be breaking your heart," Martin wrote in a Facebook post last week. "You can count on me to never get in the way of you 'preventing an unintentional pregnancy.' I'm not actually sure what that means, because if it's 'unintentional' you must have been trying to prevent it. And, I don't expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive. 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."

The Facebook post was edited later that afternoon to read, "I’m not going to assume a right to kill it just because the bearer of the child (some refer to them as mothers) doesn’t want it to remain alive."

Martin told Politico that he was being sarcastic about his "language."

“From the beginning [I] was playing their argument back to them," Martin said. "You’ll even notice the parenthetical statement that some call them mothers because I consider them mothers not hosts, so that’s not my argument that’s their argument. If you’re going to say that it’s my body, and if it’s in my body for a period of time, I can treat it how I want, then you’re the one arguing that you’re just a host."

Martin continued and said that abortion rights groups have taken his original post out of context, but still stands by his words. “Since they took that out of context, I said alright, I’ve already made it pretty clear since I said calling them mothers, I changed it to bearer of the children. But I’d be happy to change it back. I think that the way in which they turned that and somehow used this as both a Valentine’s card issue and then to turn around say that I’m calling mothers and children who bear children hosts I think is a bit of twisting of the facts."

NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia began an "I am a person" campaign on Twitter, asking pro-choice advocates to help explain to Martin that they are people, not hosts. 

"This is a rare glimpse into the true ideology of anti-abortion politicians and their complete disregard for women and families," NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia Executive Director Tarina Keene told The Huffington Post. "These callous words show an absolute lack of empathy for women who find themselves in difficult situations and having to make difficult decisions… This is not just a case of one man putting his foot in his mouth — this is how anti-choice politicians in Virginia really feel, and how they legislate."