Michael Hamar

Is VA Guv Allowing Religious Group to Direct Abortion Policies?

Filed By Michael Hamar | September 01, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Politics
Tags: abortion rights, Bob McDonnell, Taliban Bob, The Family Foundation, Victoria Cobb

Here in Virginia few organizations have stronger Christian dominionist tendencies that The Family Foundation ("TFF"), an affiliate of Focus on the Family with ties to Family Research Council. While it has somewhat sanitized it web site to appear less extreme, TFF's ongoing agenda is to inflict its "biblical world view" on all Virginians.

It does so in part by acting as the principal puppeteer of the Republican Party of Virginia. Thus, it was distressing to come across a Think Progress piece that links Virginia's new anti-abortion regulations directly to The Family Foundation.

It turns out that the deputy secretary of health and human resources for Virginia who heads the office that will interpret the regulations is none other than Matt Cobb, husband of religious extremist and theocrat Victoria Cobb, President of the Family Foundation.

When he ran for governor, Bob McDonnell tried to play down his religious extremism and sought to distance himself from a paper written while a student at Pat Robertson's CBN (now Regent) University. Now, McDonnell - known less than affectionately as "Taliban Bob" based on his participation in the lynch mob style non-reappointment proceedings against Verbena Askew, a black circuit court judge who was rumored to be a lesbian - seems to be trying to posture himself as a possible vice presidential pick for the GOP.

Matt Cobb's involvement in the department of health and human services suggests that little has changed from McDonnell's CBN days and that Christianist extremism rather than competence is McDonnell's guiding principle in political appointments. Here are highlights from Think Progress:

Last week Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) released harsh new anti-abortion regulations that could shut down the state's abortion clinics. Now the Huffington Post is reporting there may have been a conflict of interest in McDonnell's administration over the regulations. Matt Cobb, deputy secretary of health and human resources, helps lead the office that will interpret the regulations. He is also married to Victoria Cobb, a prominent anti-abortion lobbyist in the state who has spent years lobbying for clinic regulations like the ones just released.

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, told the Huffington Post that Matt Cobb sat in on meetings discussing the regulations with her and her colleagues: "People who have been dealing with these issues find it odd that he's in those meetings about the regulations," Keene told HuffPost "I find it really intriguing to think that the premiere anti-abortion advocate is basically married to the person who's now in charge of implementing the clinic regulations, and he's involved every step of the way."
[T]his is not about safety, it's about politics," said Jill Abbey, who oversees four clinics in Virginia, which she says would not be able to operate under the new regulations. . . . . The regulations come after McDonnell signed SB 924 into law, which requires all clinics in Virginia performing first-trimester abortions to be regulated like hospitals.

I'm not a fan of abortion, but I am very troubled that Victoria Cobb - one of the leading hate merchants in Virginia - has this inside track to health and human services where she can not only influence abortion services but also services to HIV+ individuals and other services.

I can't help but ask myself: Taliban Bob, WTF are you doing?

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