Virginia families blast Jackson over comments on birth defects

Two families with children suffering from birth defects wrote an open letter to E.W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, criticizing him for comments in his book “Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life,” that allege birth defects are the consequence of sin. The letter will be mailed Tuesday.

“As parents of children born with disabilities, it is offensive and disturbing to imply that our children are somehow a punishment. As someone seeking to serve in public office, you owe an apology for this baseless mischaracterization of Virginia children to thousands of families across the commonwealth,” says the letter, which was signed by Dorothea Hampton of Newport News and Neil and Sarelle Holliday of Norfolk, the Senate district of Jackson’s Democratic rival, Sen. Ralph S. Northam.   

In his 2008 book, Jackson wrote that “it is the principle of sin, rebellion against God and His truth, which has brought about birth defects and other destructive natural occurences.”

The two families call Jackson’s ideology “nothing other than destructive and extreme. All of Virginia’s families deserve to be treated with respect, but your claim that sin is the cause if birth defects severely undermines this reality.

Jackson attempted to clarify these lines in his book during a news conference in June, where he said that he doesn’t believe that birth defects are caused by parents’ sin, “unless, of course, there’s a direct scientific connection between the parents’ behavior and the disabilities of the child,” he said, giving the example of birth defects that might result from a child born to a mother addicted to heroin.