Following the replacement of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie with Vice President-elect Mike Pence as chairman of the Trump transition team, and in light of impending cabinet nominations, the Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE) today released a top ten list of anti-woman and anti-rights actions by Pence throughout his political career. This is a modified version.
Donald Trump’s attempt to moderate his public rhetoric cannot mask Vice-President Elect Mike Pence’s extensive record of eroding the health and rights of women, members of the LGBT community and immigrants. Moreover, we can expect the elevation of equally anti-women and anti-human rights advisors and cabinet members within the Trump/Pence White House.
President-elect Trump has already indicated that Pence will play a pivotal role in shaping not only the cabinet but also will be deeply involved in setting White House policy, both foreign and domestic. In addition to putting Pence at the helm of his transition team, earlier this week President-elect Trump appointed Steve Bannon, a leader in the alt-right movement who has expressed both anti-Semitic and white nationalist views, as his chief White House strategist. Additional senior staff appointments and cabinet nominations are imminent.
While Trump may not yet have a governing record on the health and rights of women and girls, Pence certainly does. It’s long, it’s clear, and it’s hostile to women, science, and human rights. Pence, who served in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2013 and then became Governor of Indiana, has been a vocal and active proponent of anti-women and anti-rights legislation and regulations.
He joined House Republicans in attempting to reinstate the Global Gag Rule in 2011, which forbids U.S. foreign aid for family planning to go to any group that uses non-U.S. funds for abortion.
He co-sponsored legislation that would re-define rape as “forcible rape” in an effort to limit abortion exceptions, and legislation that would allow hospitals to deny women abortion access even in life-threatening situations.
He pioneered the defunding of Planned Parenthood with the Pence amendment in Congress, which kick-started a wave of state actions across the country designed to harm Planned Parenthood and the women they serve. He has also made it clear that a top priority of his is overturning Roe v. Wade.
He was Governor of Indiana when its Attorney General successfully prosecuted Purvi Patel for feticide. Patel–who stated she had miscarried–was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Pence-appointed judge. The Indiana Appeals Court later overturned the verdict.
He cut funding nearly in half for Planned Parenthood within his first year in that role as well, forcing the closure of health clinics that did not provide abortions but did, however, provide testing for sexually transmitted infections.
He refused to act in 2015 when, following anti-needle sharing regulations and the closing of health clinics that tested for sexually transmitted infections, Indiana experienced the largest documented HIV outbreak in the U.S. in two decades. After several months, the Centers for Disease Control needed to intervene.
He has been a long-standing supporter of abstinence-only education as part of HIV funding both in the U.S. and abroad. A 2016 analysis by the Stanford School of Medicine showed that $1.4 billion of U.S. funding for abstinence-only programs globally has had no benefit whatsoever on the reduction of HIV. In addition, he is on record stating, falsely, that condoms are “very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases.”
He signed into law Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which would have allowed businesses to refuse service to gay and lesbian patrons. After widespread protests, he was forced to sign an amended version of the law.
He has stated that the government should divert funds for HIV prevention to so-called “conversion therapy” for LGBT people– which sometimes includes electroshock therapy and is banned in five states.
He ordered Indiana agencies to suspend actions that would bring Syrian refugees into the state and spearheaded an effort that would allow the detention of undocumented immigrants seeking hospital treatment.
Make no mistake: A Trump/Pence administration is a threat to the health and rights of women and girls in the U.S. and globally.
Serra Sippel is the president of the Center for Health and Gender Equity. She has contributed to peer-reviewed journals including Global Public Health and has been quoted in media outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post, and The Guardian. Prior to joining CHANGE, she was the international program director at Catholics for Choice, advancing the sexual and reproductive rights of women and girls around the world. She holds a master’s degree in religion from the Earlham School of Religion and received her undergraduate degree from the College of Wooster in Ohio.
Opinions expressed here are the author’s own. Ms. is owned by Feminist Majority Foundation, a 501(c)3 organization, and does not endorse candidates.