Before becoming governor of Indiana, Mike Pence was one of the most conservative members of Congress, and arguably one of the most important players in the GOP’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood.
Pence, who appeared at a Donald Trump rally yesterday, has reportedly risen to the top of the presumptive GOP nominee’s list of potential vice presidential candidates. If Trump asks Pence to be his running mate, he would be elevating one of the darlings of the anti-abortion movement, which has generally been mistrustful of Trump since he has made several contradictory statements on abortion rights and once praised Planned Parenthood for doing “very good work,” even while vowing to defund the women’s health organization unless they stop providing abortion services.
Back in 2011, Pence seized on discredited video excerpts released by the radical anti-abortion group Live Action that purported to show Planned Parenthood aiding sex trafficking. Pence’s amendment to strip federal funds from the group helped to create a standoff between the House and President Obama that nearly led to a government shutdown.
Pence appeared at a Tea Party rally outside of the Capitol, where he said that if Obama and Senate Democrats didn’t agree to a House proposal to “cut spending to pre-Stimulus, pre-bailout levels, defunding Obamacare and ending all public funding for Planned Parenthood of America,” “then I say, ‘Shut it down.’”
Besides citing the doctored videos released by Live Action, Pence bizarrely suggested that Planned Parenthood must be defunded because of the country’s high unemployment rate.
When Pence’s home state of Indiana decided to defund Planned Parenthood, clinic closures left counties without HIV testing facilities, exacerbating the state’s HIV outbreak. Pence himself signed into law an anti-abortion bill that led to a grassroots effort in which women flooded his office with detailed accounts of their periods. The law required that miscarried and aborted embryos and fetuses of “any gestational age” be “interred or cremated”; critics noted that fertilized eggs are sometimes expelled in a woman’s period without her even knowing it.
By picking Pence, Trump would give one of Planned Parenthood’s loudest critics an even bigger megaphone to launch more attacks on the health organization.