Indiana governor and vice presidential nominee Mike Pence calmly and disarmingly gaslit his way through 90 minutes of debating on Tuesday night. The debate centered predominantly on Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton ― after all, they are the ones who are running for president. But a VP, as Americans were reminded last night, is just a “heartbeat away from the presidency.”
“A society can be judged by how it deals with its most vulnerable,” said Pence. But his record indicates that this sentiment doesn’t apply if those vulnerable people happen to be women ― especially women in need of health care or women who are not straight or women who experience pay discrimination.
As HuffPost’s Laura Bassett has previously reported, Pence has been at the forefront of the GOP’s fight to restrict women’s reproductive rights and sexual health care for years, both as a Congressman and as Indiana’s governor. And there is absolutely no reason to believe that his anti-woman views have changed.
Pence has led the crusade to defund Planned Parenthood ― both federally and in Indiana. He authored the first Congressional bill to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization which provides comprehensive, affordable health care to women across the country. And as governor of Indiana, he cut funding for Planned Parenthood, which caused Scott County’s one HIV testing center (a Planned Parenthood) to shut down. An HIV outbreak followed.
He co-sponsored a bill that included language that would have basically redefined rape. The 2011 bill would have banned all federal funding for abortions with an exception for cases of “forcible rape.”
“It speaks to a distinction between rape where there must be some element of force in order to rise to the standard, and rape where there is not,” Steph Sterling, director of government relations for the National Women’s Law Center told the Washington Post at the time. “The concern here is that it takes us back to a time where just saying no was not enough.”
He is virulently opposed to LGBTQ rights. As governor he opposed marriage equality ― even signing a bill that made it a felony for same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses in Indiana, and in 2015 signed into law Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which critics say would have given businesses the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people based on religious grounds. (Pence later signed a revised version of the act.) This doesn’t even touch on his years of anti-gay rhetoric.
He does not support equal pay for women. In fact, he voted against both the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and Paycheck Fairness Act.
He really, really, really wants to see Roe v. Wade overturned, and has signed into law some of the country’s most restrictive anti-abortion legislation. In 2011, he said: “I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.” If that doesn’t make Pence’s anti-abortion views clear enough, he also has a well-documented history of turning those views into laws ― laws that effectively punish women trying to make health care decisions. (Under Indiana’s feticide law, Purvi Patel was convicted of feticide and neglect of a dependent, and sentenced to 20 years in prison. The charges were later dropped.) And look at HB 1337, which Pence signed in March. According to The Daily Beast:
Pence signed a bill that, among other restrictions, bans abortion sought because of a fetal anomaly like Down syndrome and requires abortion providers to bury or cremate fetal tissue. Indiana is the only other state besides North Dakota to ban abortion motivated by fetal anomaly—a provision that a federal judge has already deemed unconstitutional.
No amount of even-keeled chuckling can change the above. So when you listen to Pence assure the nation that Trump isn’t an unhinged choice for POTUS, remember that he still wants to control what 51 percent of the population does with their uteruses.
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