Mike Pence Has Led The Fight Against Reproductive Rights For Half A Decade

He once threatened to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood funding.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has a long record of opposing women's reproductive rights.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has a long record of opposing women's reproductive rights.
TASOS KATOPODIS via Getty Images

Donald Trump recently offered some words of praise for Planned Parenthood, confusing some about where he stands on women’s reproductive rights. But the presumptive GOP presidential nominee appears to have put those questions to rest by selecting as his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, who has led the GOP’s war on Planned Parenthood, birth control access and abortion rights for more than five years.

When Republicans took over the House of Representatives in 2011, then-Rep. Pence authored the first bill to strip all federal money from Planned Parenthood. He then threatened to shut down the federal government over Planned Parenthood funding in an interview on MSNBC.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told Politico at the time that she had never seen a legislator go after the organization with as much intensity as Pence. “He’s the only one I know of who has been so completely obsessed with Planned Parenthood,” she said. “This just seems to be an enormous focus of his.”

“A Trump-Pence ticket should send a shiver down the spine of women in this country,” the group said in a statement Thursday. “Donald Trump just sent a message to the women of America: your health and your lives are not important.”

Also in 2011, Pence cosponsored the Ultrasound Informed Consent Act, a bill that would have required abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking abortion, regardless of whether it was medically necessary, and then describe the embryo in detail to her. He also cosponsored a bill that would have essentially redefined rape, prohibiting federal funds from paying for abortion except in cases of “forcible rape,” and a bill that would allow hospitals to deny abortions to pregnant women who would die without the care.

Since Pence became governor of Indiana in 2013, he has signed multiple anti-abortion bills into law, including a measure that prohibits private insurance providers from offering abortion coverage. Under his leadership in 2015, Indiana experienced a devastating HIV outbreak, which was exacerbated by the closure of a Planned Parenthood clinic that was the only HIV testing center in the county. The clinic had closed due to Pence’s cuts to Planned Parenthood’s funding.

in March, Pence signed one of the worst anti-abortion omnibus bills in the country into law. Among other things, it requires doctors to offer women the “remains” of the fetus after an abortion.

Indiana women were so frustrated with Pence’s apparent preoccupation with their reproductive organs this year that they started a “Periods for Pence” campaign, giving him details of their menstrual cycles. One woman even invited Pence to her gynecologist appointment.

Not surprisingly, anti-abortion advocates cheered the news of Trump’s likely pick on Thursday.

“Mr. Trump’s selection of Gov. Mike Pence is an affirmation of the pro-life commitments he’s made and will rally the pro-life grassroots,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List.

Women’s rights advocates decried the choice.

“Pence has a rich history of marginalizing women as a politician, the same way Donald Trump has throughout his career and this campaign,” said Marcy Stech, a spokesperson for the pro-choice PAC EMILY’s List. “Together, they are a perfect storm of classic, out of touch, GOP extremism. For the very few women still not convinced that Trump isn’t a threat to women, Gov. Pence should do it—these men are not to be trusted.”

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