Media Highlight Trump VP Pick Mike Pence’s “Radical Obstinacy” On Abortion

Media Highlight Trump VP Pick Mike Pence’s “Radical Obstinacy” On Abortion

››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

Media figures are calling out the “bizarre” and “extreme” anti-abortion record of Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate, Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN). They called Pence “the most anti-abortion presidential or VP candidate we’ve had,” and noted that he “became a conservative hero” by virtue of his “longstanding, implacable and dogged” opposition to abortion.

Donald Trump Taps Mike Pence For Vice President

Trump Picks Pence For VP. On July 15, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump announced on Twitter that he had selected Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) to be his running mate. From CNN: 

Donald Trump formally unveiled Mike Pence as his running mate Saturday, candidly saying he hoped the pick would unite the fractured Republican Party, in a typically unconventional rollout event that was more about the man at the top of the ticket than his new sidekick.

The presumptive Republican nominee introduced the Indiana governor at a Manhattan hotel two days before the start of the Republican National Convention. It was a spectacle that underscored the odd couple nature of the GOP ticket, that now unites Trump, a brash, volatile outsider with a sparse ideological track record, with Pence, a strait-laced, disciplined warrior of the social conservative movement. [CNN.com, 7/16/16]

Media Note Pence’s “Longstanding, Implacable, And Dogged” Opposition To Women’s Right To Choose 

NY Times: Pence “Test[s] The Boundaries Of The Law” In His “Unending Battle Against Abortion.” Writing for The New York Times, Monica Davey and Michael Barbaro noted Pence’s “reputation as a longstanding, implacable, and dogged opponent of abortion,” and saying his “most enduring legacy is his unbending battle against abortion and his repeated willingness to test the boundaries of the law in seeking to limit it.” The Times writers explained that as governor, Pence signed an abortion law that “advocates and foes agree was a sweeping and unusual set of restrictions on abortion” (the constitutionality of the law has since been called into question) and that he “has signed anti-abortion measures every year he has been in office.” From The New York Times’ July 16 article: 

One by one, Republican women of the Indiana state legislature rose to describe, in anguished terms, why they could not support an anti-abortion measure hurtling toward passage.

They hated abortion, they said, but this bill went too far. It would have prohibited a woman from aborting a fetus because it had a disability, such as Down syndrome.

[...]

Indiana’s governor, Mike Pence, waved off the objections of his fellow Republicans: He signed the legislation into law a few weeks later, enacting what advocates and foes agree was a sweeping and unusual set of restrictions on abortion that went further than any other state in the country and openly clashed with legal precedent.

Mr. Pence’s reputation as a longstanding, implacable and dogged opponent of abortion has made him a hero to the country’s cultural conservatives. Now that he is Donald J. Trump’s running mate, it puts him at odds with the presumptive Republican presidential nominee and could complicate the party’s outreach to a decisive bloc of voters in the general election: women.

[...]

But to a powerful network of grass-roots activists, Mr. Pence’s most enduring legacy is his unbending battle against abortion and his repeated willingness to test the boundaries of the law in seeking to limit it.

[...]

He radiated anger over the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States, Roe v. Wade, calling it in 2009 “the worst Supreme Court decision since Dred Scott,” which found in 1857 that black slaves were property and not citizens.

And he repeatedly evoked what he said was the evil of the procedure itself — “nascent human life that is ended abruptly and in darkness.”

Since his election as governor, in 2012, he has signed anti-abortion measures every year he has been in office. Most copied the language of conservative state laws around the country, which made it harder for abortion clinics to operate and put new demands on women seeking the procedures, according to abortion rights advocates. [The New York Times, 7/16/16]

Esquire: “Pence Was A Pioneer In The Assault On Planned Parenthood.” In a July 14 article, Charles Pierce of Esquire magazine wrote that “on the issue of a woman’s right to choose,” Pence “really has dedicated his life to going bananas.” As “one of the pioneers in the assault on Planned Parenthood,” Pence “signed a bill that would force women who undergo an abortion to … pay for the funeral of the aborted fetus,” Pierce wrote. From the article:

But it's on the issue of a woman's right to choose where Pence really has dedicated his life to going bananas. Of all the anti-choicers, he's one of the choicest anti-ers. He was one of the pioneers in the assault on Planned Parenthood. This past March, Pence signed a bill that would force women who undergo an abortion to…wait for it…pay for the funeral of the aborted fetus. [Esquire, 7/14/16]

Dartmouth Professor On MSNBC: Pence Is “Probably The Most Anti-Abortion Presidential Or VP Candidate We've Had.” Dartmouth professor Jeff Sharlet asserted that Pence is “the most anti-abortion presidential or VP candidate we’ve had,” noting that Pence believes “if we don’t stop abortion, our economy will collapse.” From the July 16 edition of MSNBC’s AM Joy:

JOY REID (HOST): Jeff, and I'm going to you on this first. Really wanted to have you on today just to talk about the sort of nexus between evangelicalism and Republicanism in Washington. Where does Mike Pence fit into that? 

JEFF SHARLET: Mike Pence is one of the brokers of that. To understand Mike Pence and to understand that kind of religious conservative politics, you have to not think of social conservatism and fiscal conservatism as separate, but like Mike Pence say, "Our goal, our mission, is to marry fiscal and moral values." He sees them as one in the same, so when you go back in his record and you look at his speeches about abortion, which are really something. He is probably the most anti-abortion presidential or VP candidate we've had. You see him also bringing in financial. He sees it if we don't stop abortion, our economy will collapse. So he's the guy who sort of stands in the middle between those two factions of the Republican Party. 

REID: And just to make that point, just a few sort of bullet points on Mike Pence as far as the issues. On abortion, he signed a law as Indiana governor banning abortions because of genetic anomalies, abortions that were unfortunate anomalies, and he also signed a law mandating, and this is weird, women who have a miscarriage or an abortion had to have a burial for the fetus and must cremate after a miscarriage or abortion. [MSNBC, AM Joy, 7/16/16]

Vox: Pence’s “Bizarre” Abortion Position “Too Extreme” “Even [For] Some Pro-Life Republicans.” Vox’s Emily Crockett wrote that Pence signed an anti-abortion bill “that even some pro-life Republicans thought was too extreme” and was ultimately blocked by a federal court for “violat[ing] women’s right to choose.” The “bizarre” and “unprecedented” bill mandated that women “seek funerary services for a fetus -- whether she’d had an abortion or miscarriage, and no matter how far along the pregnancy was.” From the July 14 article: 

It’s no secret that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s reported pick for the Republican vice presidential nomination, opposes abortion rights. But this year he signed an anti-abortion bill that even some pro-life Republicans thought was too extreme, and which was blocked from going into effect late last month by a federal judge because it violated women’s right to choose.

The law did something truly bizarre. It would have basically forced women to seek funerary services for a fetus — whether she’d had an abortion or a miscarriage, and no matter how far along the pregnancy was. The law Pence backed would have required all fetal tissue to be cremated or buried, an unprecedented measure in state law. The law also banned abortion if the fetus had a "disability" like Down syndrome, which would have also denied women the right to end a pregnancy in the event of more serious fetal anomalies.

The wording of the burial provision meant that technically, even if a woman had a miscarriage at eight weeks of pregnancy at home, she would have to keep the blood and tissue, take it to a hospital, and have it buried or cremated by a funeral home.

And since about half of miscarriages happen shortly after a fertilized egg is implanted, and occur at roughly the same time a woman would expect her period, many women could be having a miscarriage and not even know it — and thus, technically be violating the law if they didn’t cremate or bury the resulting tissue. [Vox, 7/14/16]

Mother Jones: Pence “Has Decimated Access To Abortion.” Mother Jones’ Hannah Levintova noted that Pence signed into law a measure that “held doctors legally liable for wrongful death if it was found they had performed an abortion” for a prohibited reason, a ban opposed by the medical community “out of fear that women will censor themselves” when talking with their doctors. Levintova also recalled that, as a Congressman, Pence “pushed an amendment through the House to defund Planned Parenthood” which “helped kick-start a wave of state actions" to defund Planned Parenthood. From the July 14 post (emphasis original): 

He has decimated access to abortion: In March 2016, Gov. Pence signed a measure prohibiting women from obtaining an abortion because of the race, gender, or disability of the fetus, making Indiana only the second state in the nation to do this. The law also held doctors legally liable for wrongful death if it was found they had performed an abortion motivated by one or more of the prohibited reasons. These sorts of bans are opposed by much of the medical community, out of fear that women will censor themselves when it comes to making difficult decisions with the help of their doctors. Following the Supreme Court's decision in a landmark abortion case in June, a federal judge blocked this Indiana law from going into effect.

He slashed Planned Parenthood funding, spurring clinic closures and an HIV outbreak: In 2011, Pence pushed an amendment through the House to defund Planned Parenthood. This amendment helped kick-start a wave of state actions aimed at removing government support from the women's health provider. Indiana was successful in its efforts, but a federal judge blocked the law from going into effect. When Pence became governor in 2013, Indiana continued to slash resources for the women's health provider. By 2014, state funding for Planned Parenthood had been cut nearly in half from 2005 levels. The organization was forced to close five of its smaller clinics, none of which had ever provided abortions, but they did provide STD testing. Soon, Scott County, Indiana, home to one of the closed clinics, became the hub of an enormous HIV outbreak. [Mother Jones, 7/14/16]

Huff. Post: Pence “Has Led The GOP’s War On Planned Parenthood.” Laura Bassett wrote for The Huffington Post that Pence “has led the GOP’s war on Planned Parenthood.” Bassett said that in 2011, then-Rep. Pence co-sponsored legislation that would have “required abortion providers to perform an ultrasound on a woman seeking abortion” regardless of medical necessity, another that “essentially redefined rape” by “prohibiting federal funds from paying for abortion except in cases of ‘forcible rape,’” and a third “that would allow hospitals to deny abortions to pregnant women who would die without the care.” From the July 14 article: 

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.

[...]

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 (sic) 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. [The Huffington Post, 7/14/16]

Chicago Tribune: Pence “Has Spent His Career In Opposition To Women’s Reproductive Rights.” The Chicago Tribune’s Rex Huppke notes that Pence “fought hard to defund Planned Parenthood” in Congress and even remarked, “‘I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.’” Selecting Pence as vice president “suggests that Supreme Court justice picks under a Trump/Pence administration would be focused on overturning Roe v. Wade.” From the July 15 article: 

The real estate mogul's routine sexism has already made him unpopular with female voters. And now he adds a vice presidential candidate who has spent his career in opposition to women's reproductive rights, including the signing of an anti-abortion law earlier this year that even some pro-life Republicans considered too harsh.

In June, a federal judge blocked the new Indiana law, which banned abortions sought because of genetic abnormalities and required burial or cremation services after either an abortion or a miscarriage.

While in Congress, Pence fought hard to defund Planned Parenthood and once said: "I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history."

Trump's opinions on abortion have varied, but Pence solidifies the ticket's anti-abortion stance and suggests that Supreme Court justice picks under a Trump/Pence administration would be focused on overturning Roe v. Wade.

Nothing helps a campaign struggling to win over female voters quite like a guy who thinks he knows what's best for women. [Chicago Tribune, 7/15/16]

The Daily Beast: Pence Made “Three Attempts In Three Legislative Sessions” To Defund Abortion Providers. The Daily Beast’s Samantha Allen observed that then-Rep. Pence sponsored an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood in “2011, long before the current controversy over Planned Parenthood’s legal donation of fetal tissue.” Pence also authored an amendment to stop federal funding for abortions, claiming that “‘abortion on demand is already legal in America. This is about who pays for it.’” He was seemingly ignorant that the Hyde Amendment already “prohibits federal funding from being used for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.” From the July 13 article: 

But Pence’s opposition to reproductive rights goes back a lot further than early 2016. In fact, his anti-abortion bona fides could help stabilize Trump’s often-tempestuous relationship with the pro-life movement.

During his decade-plus in the U.S. House of Representatives, Pence voted for strict anti-abortion measures while state legislators back home were busy turning Indiana into the seventh-“most protective” state in the country, as ranked by the anti-abortion group Americans United for Life.

In 2011, long before the current controversy over Planned Parenthood’s legal donation of fetal tissue, Pence sponsored an amendment to prohibit any federal funding whatsoever for the women’s health organization.

This came after three attempts in three legislative sessions to keep federal Title X funds away from any organization that provides abortion, as Politico reported.

“Sadly abortion on demand is legal in America. This is about who pays for it,” Pence said in an impassioned speech on the floor of the House in support of the Pence Amendment. “Nobody is saying that Planned Parenthood can't be the leading advocate of abortion on demand in America but why do I have to pay for it?”

The Hyde Amendment already prohibits federal funding from being used for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. [The Daily Beast, 7/13/16]

Vox: “Pence Sponsored The First Bill To Defund Planned Parenthood.” On July 14, Vox’s Sarah Kliff recalled that Pence was the first congressman to introduce a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in 2007, “and did so repeatedly through 2011, when it finally passed the House.” Before Pence’s commitment to the issue, “defunding Planned Parenthood wasn’t something Congress talked about much at all.” Since Pence “opened up the floodgates,” the “House has now voted eight times to defund Planned Parenthood.” From the article: 

As a member of Congress, Pence sponsored the first bill to defund Planned Parenthood in 2007 — and did so repeatedly through 2011, when it finally passed the House.

[...]

Pence worked doggedly on the issue before it rose to national prominence. Before that, defunding Planned Parenthood wasn’t something Congress talked about much at all.

[...]

After his first attempt to defund Planned Parenthood failed — offered as an amendment to an appropriations bill in 2007 — he got to work setting the groundwork for future bills. He requested a Government Accountability Office report on how much money abortion clinics receive from the federal government to bolster his case.

Federal law already prohibits government spending from paying for abortions. But abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood have traditionally received money for other routine health care services they provide, like STD testing or annual exams to provide birth control.

But Pence felt like he could make it harder for Planned Parenthood clinics to provide abortions if they were losing their other revenue streams.

"What’s clear to me [is] if you follow the money, you can actually take the funding supports out of abortion," he says. "We then have a much better opportunity to move forward to be a society that says yes to life."

Pence sponsored an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011, and it did pass — although not without causing turmoil at the time.

[...]

That vote essentially opened up the floodgates: The House has now voted eight times to defund Planned Parenthood. Legislators took up the fight with renewed vigor in 2015, when the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress released sting videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials profiting off procuring fetal tissue for researchers. [Vox, 7/14/16

The Nation: “Mike Pence Is A Smooth-Talking Todd Akin.” The Nation’s Joan Walsh wrote that, in Congress, Pence “co-sponsored a bill that would have redefined rape and limited federal funding for abortion to women who suffered ‘forcible rape’—what Akin famously described as ‘legitimate rape.’” Walsh also noted that Pence is “the guy who began the GOP’s ugly and so far unsuccessful crusade to defund Planned Parenthood,” leading her to conclude that “he’s a smooth talking Todd Akin.” From the July 15 article: 

If Trump thinks he’s getting a running mate who can appeal to the center and swing voters, he’s wrong about that. Pence is so far right when it comes to women’s and LGBT issues, he makes Trump look like a Democrat. Frankly, he’s a smooth-talking Todd Akin.

In Congress, Pence co-sponsored a bill that would have redefined rape and limited federal funding for abortion to women who suffered “forcible rape”—what Akin famously described as “legitimate rape” when he doomed his 2012 Senate bill. Pence is also the guy who began the GOP’s ugly and so far unsuccessful crusade to defund Planned Parenthood, back in 2007. “He’s the only one I know of who has been so completely obsessed with Planned Parenthood,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said back then. “This just seems to be an enormous focus of his.” Of course, Pence got more company in the Tea Party Congress of 2011, and that year he threatened to shut down the government over continued Planned Parenthood funding.

Since becoming governor in 2013, Pence has signed various anti-abortion bills and succeeded in defunding Planned Parenthood in his state. That helped lead to a devastating resurgence of HIV/AIDS, since Planned Parenthood was one of a few providers of HIV testing in the state.

Unfortunately, there’s not much daylight between Trump and Pence on the issue of Planned Parenthood. Although daughter Ivanka reportedly got Trump to say nice things about the group’s women’s-health work earlier this year, both he and Pence have said that if Planned Parenthood wants to continue providing primary care for women, and crucial screenings for breast and cervical cancers, it should stop providing abortions. [The Nation, 7/15/16]

Slate: The “True Purpose” Of Pence’s Anti-Abortion Laws Is “Shaming Women.” Slate’s Christina Cauterucci criticized the “radical obstinacy” of Pence’s anti-abortion law HB 1337. She observed that the “basically unenforceable provisions” of the law “makes their true purpose clear: shaming women, discouraging them from seeking reproductive care, and forcing them to move forward with potentially dangerous pregnancies.” Cauterucci also noted that the law would force doctors to “risk state prosecution or being sued for wrongful death” if they performed an abortion for a prohibited reason. From the July 14 article: 

This year’s evidence of Pence’s radical obstinacy is his backing of HB 1337, an extreme anti-abortion bill he signed into law in March. (It was supposed to go into effect at the end of June, but a U.S. District Court judge granted a preliminary injunction as Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky challenge the law in court.) 

[...]

These are basically unenforceable provisions—how could anyone prove a woman was having an abortion for one reason and not another?—which makes their true purpose clear: shaming women, discouraging them from seeking reproductive care, and forcing them to move forward with potentially dangerous pregnancies. They also have the potential to make doctors profile their patients based on race and view them with suspicion, since a doctor would risk state prosecution or being sued for wrongful death if she or he violated these bans.

That’s not the end of it: HB 1337 requires that women visit a clinic to listen to their fetus’s heartbeat via ultrasound, then go home and come back at least 18 hours later for the actual abortion. It also makes women pay to cremate or bury the fetal tissue that results from her abortion. [Slate, 7/14/16]

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.