I was, frankly, surprised at how well Mike Pence came off in last night’s debate. Particularly when compared with Donal Trump’s performance in last week's debate, he and Tim Kaine reminded me more of your two slightly drunk uncles fighting at your cousin's bar mitzvah than anything else. They agreed on a lot of (terrifying) things, including the need military intervention in Syria and their shared desire to squash Putin flat. With that being said, we think it’s time for a reminder that Pence, both in his ideology and in his track record as a legislator, has proven that he is a far, far more harmful choice for women — particularly when paired with Donald Trump and his administration. The list was hard to narrow down, believe me, but here are the top reasons that having Mike Pence as VP would be fucking nightmare for women:
#1) He Signed a Bill Requiring Funerals for Aborted Fetuses
Last March, Pence signed into law a bill requiring that funerals be held for aborted fetuses. The law "required that health care facilities inter or cremate the remains of an aborted fetus, and prohibited fetal tissue donation", making tissue disposal tantamount to a funeral. This is just part of Pence's long history of limiting reproductive rights: as the Governor of Indiana he drastically decreased access to safe and legal abortions. Since taking office in 2013, he has signed into law multiple pieces of anti-abortion legislation, including ones that prevent insurance providers from covering the procedures. Another bill, deemed sadistic by Salon, enacted anti-abortion measure designed to intimidate and humiliate people those who would seek the medical procedure, including requiring “doctors to offer “parents” the “remains” (which in most cases looks mostly like a really heavy period) after the abortion, a clear attempt to make women feel like they are child-killers just because they had a brainless embryo removed from their uterus.” The bill also requires doctors to perform “an ultrasound where they try to obtain a heartbeat,” which is “just one more bit of anti-choice theater designed to make women feel bad.” The law also requires “informed consent”, in which doctors are required to tell their patients a host of ‘facts’ about the dangers of abortion (that it might lead to breast cancer, for example).
#2) He is the dead-set on dismantling Planned Parenthood:
Since the Republicans took over the House in 2011, for three successive legislative sessions, Pence has repeatedly introduced bills that would defund and shut down Planned Parenthood. According to Politico, “The Indiana Republican is on a one-man crusade to deny all federal funding to the group — not just the money it gets for reproductive health and family planning services, but every penny it gets for anything.” His legislation seeks to stop all funding of the organization through “Title X, the only federal program dedicated to reproductive health and family planning.” Pence concentrates on cutting off the organization financially to prevent access to abortions, stating in 2011 the he is “interested in doing what [he] can, in the balance of this fiscal year, to end public funding of Planned Parenthood, specifically.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, one of the leading anti-abortion organizations, and someone whom Trump has promised will be “a prominent force in his proposed pro-life coalition if he is elected”, said of Pence’s work defunding Planned Parenthood that “he's both a true believer and a policy work.” That Pence “understands that Planned Parenthood is the fulcrum of the abortion movement.”
Pence has made it his mission to defund Planned Parenthood - it has become a hallmark of his legislative career. “He’s the only one I know of who has been so completely obsessed with Planned Parenthood,” said the health organization's president, Cecile Richards. “This just seems to be an enormous focus of his.”
All of this is despite the fact that abortions are just a very small part of what Planned Parenthood does as a health provider (they offer counseling, general health, STI screenings, and much more.) In an interview with Politico he stated that “If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not be in the business of providing abortions.” Pence swore that “As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.” Those words seem to ring with irony when you consider the fact that <> Indiana, the State which Pence is Governor of, is in the midst of one of the worst HIV outbreaks of the past twenty years.
#3) Not to mention the fact that his anti-abortion measures are racist:
In March of 2016, Pence signed into law a bill to prevent the women from electing to have an abortion due to the race, gender, or disability of the fetus, citing, ironically gender and racial equity as the reasons for doing so. The ideology behind this legislation, however, is rooted in the racist notion of some cultures choose to abort based on gender -- particularly Asian-American women, most due to the association with China’s one-child policy. This is racist, claimed the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, because “by assuming that because of our culture Asian American and Pacific Islander women will choose to terminate pregnancies based on sex, this law turns AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) women into suspects in their doctor’s offices.” It targets Asian-American women because it “encourages invasive scrutiny of our motives that other women will not be subjected to.'”
#4) And that they target low-income individuals:
Pence’s anti-choice policies disproportionately affect low-income individuals, since “Forty-two percent of women who get abortions live below the poverty line and 61 percent have children.” This is in addition to the fact that Pence has voted time and again to not increase to minimum wage, and in “2013, Pence mustered Republican State House opposition to a proposal that would have increased Indiana’s minimum wage to $8.25 per hour despite national support for raising the wage to $9.” Before this, according to The Times of Northwest Indiana, Pence signed legislation “prohibit[ing] local governments from requiring businesses [to] pay a higher minimum wage, or offer any working condition or benefit, such as paid sick leave, if it's not mandated by state or federal law.” While the minimum wage matters for everyone, it certainly largely affects women, since two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women.
People often overlook the VP in the chaos and hype of a Presidential election. Their stances, their legislative history — they are often lost, lumped together with that of the Presidential candidate and the larger campaign platform. We cannot, however, ignore the effect that specifically Pence, as one-half of the "Trump/Pence" campaign would have for our country; it will be a devastating blow to gender equity, reproductive health, and the safety of millions of Americans.
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