It goes without saying that A Women’s Thing loathes Mike Pence and the woman-hating, LGBTQ-discriminating career he’s built for himself. We thought it would be useful for our readers to have a quick go-to list of the most terrifying (and believe us, there are several) steps the Vice President-elect has taken throughout his time as governor of Indiana to continue waging his war on women and our reproductive rights.
1. Pence fundamentally hates Planned Parenthood. Politico aptly characterized Pence’s hatred of the women-focused nonprofit organization as a “one-man crusade” to end all patients’ access to every Planned Parenthood center in the country. He started the congressional campaign to defund Planned Parenthood and, as Sarah Kliff notes, in 2007 introduced the first federal measure to block patients from receiving care at the state’s clinics. Federal law already prohibits government spending from paying for abortions, but abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood traditionally receive money for other routine health care services, like STI testing or annual checkups. In his eternal mission to do away with all abortion-providing clinics, he’s trying to cut other revenue streams in the hope that they will shutter their doors, even though these clinics provide other services that are oftentimes lifesaving.
2. He willfully went against public health advisories and cut funding to the state’s public health infrastructure, causing 5 Planned Parenthood clinics to close. The clinic in Scott County, which closed in 2013, was the only H.I.V. and AIDS testing center in the county, and could therefore not combat the unprecedented H.I.V. epidemic caused by intravenous drug use in March 2015 —and this clinic did not even offer abortions, which is Pence’s reining reason for hating Planned Parenthood. In essence, his hatred of Planned Parenthood and all clinics that offer abortion services pushed his decision to do away with the largest public healthcare provider in the area, and this situation isn’t unique to Scott County. There are so many areas in the country where Planned Parenthood is the only clinic where both women and men can receive affordable health care. Pence’s extreme blindness and deadly ignorance fueled one of the biggest H.I.V. outbreaks in America in recent years, as Dr. Seema Yasmin PhD notes.
3. Pence co-sponsored a bill that would have allowed hospitals to deny abortions to pregnant women whose life depended on the care—and the only exception would have been cases of “forcible” rape. Yep, “forcible” rape. Apparently Pence doesn’t understand that all rape is forced; that’s what makes it rape. Not only would this bill take away all agency women have over their bodies (yet again!), but it also redefines rape, a word that’s already been redefined, aggravatingly, so many times that pinning down the definition is evidently still difficult for some people. If anything, the vice president should know what rape is and take a strong stance against it, just as Vice President Joe Biden did in his compassionate letter to Brock Turner’s sexual assault survivor.
4. He signed 8 anti-abortion bills into law in less than 4 years as governor of Indiana. One of these is so extreme that it was met by opposition by the Republican women in his state legislature: It bans women seeking abortion based on fetal diagnosis of physical disability, including Down Syndrome, and requires them to pay for burial or cremation of fetal remains if they are somehow still able to get an abortion. Indiana already requires all women receiving an abortion to undergo state-mandated pre-abortion counseling as “group” sessions, but this bill forces women to undergo “private” counseling instead, adding further state-sanctioned shame and judgment to a personal decision.
5. He signed a $3.5 million contract to support Pennsylvania-based anti-abortion group “Real Alternatives” that uses lies to promote childbirth instead of abortion. This money would come from the state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which provides aid to low-income families. The supreme irony of this is that because more women are reluctantly giving birth due to this organization’s manipulation and deceit, there is less money available to a social organization that could actually help these women and their children. If anything, this only reaffirms that Mike Pence is not “pro-life” but rather “pro-birth.” He really couldn’t care less about a life once it’s left the birth canal, something that’s blatantly evidenced in his hatred of living, breathing women.
6. He signed the “religious freedom” law, which gives businesses the right to discriminate against LGBTQ people on religious grounds. Although he revised the law because several high-profile businesses like Apple and Marriott condemned it, the revision still allows for discrimination against LGBTQ people and LGBTQ women who are seeking safe, affordable healthcare.
7. He thinks condoms are too “modern” and “a very, very poor protection against transmitted diseases,” a response he made in 2002 to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell’s comment in an MTV forum that young people should protect themselves through safe sex with condoms. Here’s that sex-ed lesson you missed, Mike: Aside from condoms having a 98% success rate in preventing pregnancy if used correctly, they are also the only form of contraception that prevent STIs, and the CDC argues that they can effectively protect from many of the most serious. Pence, an extreme proponent of abstinence education, has revealed jaw-dropping ignorance with regards to sexual health. The irony is that he’s made it his mission to completely defund the organization that educates patients about STIs and safe sex practices: Planned Parenthood.
8. And last but certainly not least, Pence has said publically that he longs “for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history.” True story.
As women, we can’t stop fighting for our right to do as we choose with our own bodies, to condemn rape for what it is, and to promote access of accurate sexual education and resources. Join us in continuing to call out abuses of power after the new administration takes over.