Mark Obenshain

Mark Obenshain
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 26th district
Assumed office
August 2004
Preceded by Kevin G. Miller
Personal details
Born Mark Dudley Obenshain
(1962-06-11) June 11, 1962
Richmond, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Suzanne Speas (?–present)
Residence Harrisonburg, Virginia
Alma mater Virginia Tech
Washington and Lee University School of Law
Profession Attorney and politician
Committees Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; Courts of Justice; Local Government; Privileges and Elections
Religion Presbyterianism
Website Official website

Mark Dudley Obenshain (born June 11, 1962) is an American attorney and politician. He is currently serving as a member of the Senate of Virginia from Harrisonburg. He is a member of the Republican Party. He took office in 2004. At the 2013 state Republican convention he became the Republican nominee in the 2013 election for Attorney General of Virginia.[1]

Political career

Obenshain has accumulated a conservative voting record since his election to the Shenandoah Valley's 26th state senate district in 2003. Obenshain's 2003 victory was a 68-32% win over former Harrisonburg mayor Rodney Eagle for an open seat.

In the Senate, Obenshain is a member of the Agriculture, Conservation, and Natural Resources, Courts of Justice, Local Government, and the Privileges and Elections Committee. For fundraising and organizational purposes he is a member of the conservative Republican Senate Victory PAC. In 2007, Obenshain easily won reelection over Democrat Maxine Hope Roles 70-29 percent. Obenshain ran for re-election unopposed in 2011. Obenshain was the republican candidate for Attorney General in the 2013 Election, but conceded to his opponent Mark Herring on December 18.

Miscarriage reporting bill

During his run for attorney general in 2013, Obenshain was criticized for a bill he introduced in 2009 which would have required women who had miscarriages without medical attendance to report it to authorities within 24 hours.[2] Obenshain explained that he introduced the bill in response to the case of a Virginia woman who threw her dead newborn baby's body into the trash, and was trying to create a bill to allow law enforcement to prosecute a woman in that circumstance. However, the legislation that emerged "was far too broad, and would have had ramifications that neither he nor the Commonwealth's attorney's office ever intended," and after being unable to resolve the problem of women potentially being prosecuted for miscarriages, he withdrew the bill and stated that he is "strongly against imposing any added burden for women who suffer a miscarriage, and that was never the intent of the legislation."[3]

The bill, as proposed by Obenshain, would have required that when a fetal death occurred without medical attendance upon the mother at or after the delivery or abortion, the mother or someone acting on her behalf, within twenty-four hours, report the fetal death, location of the remains, and identity of the mother to the local or state police or sheriff's department of the city or county where the fetal death occurred. The bill also specified that no one should remove, destroy, or otherwise dispose of any remains without the express authorization of law-enforcement officials or the medical examiner, and that a violation of the statute would constitute a Class 1 misdemeanor.[4]

Personal life

Obenshain is married to Suzanne Speas Obenshain and is the founder of the Obenshain Law Group.[5] Obenshain is a member of First Presbyterian Church and a former director of the Harrisonburg Rotary Club. Prior to joining the Senate, Obenshain was also a member of James Madison University's Board of Visitors and the Governor's Advisory Commission on Welfare Reform.

Obenshain studied economics and history at Virginia Tech then attended Washington and Lee School of Law. Obenshain is the son of former Virginia Republican Committee Chairman Richard D. Obenshain and the brother of another past Chairman, Kate Obenshain.


  1. Schmidt, Markus and Jim Nolan (2013-05-18). "Virginia GOP convention: Obenshain nominee for AG". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved 2013-05-18.
  2. McDonough, Katie (May 20, 2013). "GOP attorney general candidate tried to force women to report miscarriages to police". Salon.
  3. "Mark Obenshain, Virginia Attorney General Candidate, Explains Controversial Miscarriage Bill". 2013-05-20. Retrieved 2013-11-16.
  4. "LIS > Bill Tracking > SB962 > 2009 session". Retrieved 2013-11-16.

External links

Senate of Virginia
Preceded by
Kevin G. Miller
Virginia Senate, District 26
Succeeded by
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