3 Ways to Gauge VP Candidate Mike Pence’s Stance on Reproductive Health & LGBT Issues

By Miriam Zoila Pu00e9rez Jul 15, 2016

It’s official. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has officially announced that Indiana Governor Mike Pence will be his running mate. Pence, who FiveThirtyEight pegs as the most likely finalist to "satisfy the conservative base." Pence has made clear his ideological positions through the strong policy moves he’s made as a governor and member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Throughout his career he’s made headlines by limiting reproductive health and LGBT rights. Here are three big indicators of Pence’s position on these issues. 

1. He Really Doesn’t Like Planned Parenthood

Pence has consistently been a strong opponent to Planned Parenthood, the site and symbol of much of the GOP’s anti-abortion work. In 2011, reports Mother Jones, Pence authored a House bill to defund Planned Parenthood and threatened a government shutdown over it. Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told Politico at the time: “He’s the only one I know of who has been so completely obsessed with Planned Parenthood. This just seems to be an enormous focus of his.”

Pence’s 2011 amendment helped kickstart a wave of state-based budget cuts designed to drive the women’s health provider out of business. In 2014, one year into Pence’s governorship, Indiana’s state funding for Planned Parenthood was down by nearly 50 percent from 2005 levels, Mother Jones reports. Five clinics that did STD testing but no abortions closed their doors. After the shutdown of its area clinic, Scott County "became the hub of an enormous HIV outbreak."

2. He Has Championed Restrictive Abortion Policies

In March of this year, Pence signed HEA 1337 into law. The bill prohibited "women from electing to have an abortion due to the race, gender, or disability of the fetus," and would "impose strict rules on doctors who perform abortions." Indiana was the second state in the nation to enact such a law. But in a suit brought by Planned Parenthood and ACLU Indiana, a federal judge blocked the law, a decision that came on the heels of the recent Supreme Court decision in the Texas case. Critics of laws like these have called the sex-selection parts anti-Asian and note that Indiana is where Purvi Patel was prosecuted and sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide and neglect of a dependent.

As a U.S. Congressman, Pence was instrumental in introducing anti-abortion legislation including his co-sponsorship of a bill that would have required an ultrasound before every procedure.

3. His Track Record on LGBT Rights is Less Than Supportive

Last March, Pence signed a bill into law allowing businesses to refuse service to LGBT customers on religious grounds. Critics of the law say the law could be used to protect discrimination of all kinds. Only after a backlash, did he sign an amended version of the law that stated that no "provider…may deny service to anyone on basis of sexual orientation, race, religion or disability.”

Pence has also taken policy positions against same-sex marriage, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the repeal of "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." In addition to his policy moves, his rhetoric has made his anti-LGBT stance evident. From Time:

In 2006, as head of the Republican Study Committee, a group of the 100 most-conservative House members, Pence rose in support of a constitutional amendment that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman. Citing a Harvard researcher, Pence said in his speech, ‘societal collapse was always brought about following an advent of the deterioration of marriage and family.’ Pence also called being gay a choice and said keeping gays from marrying was not discrimination, but an enforcement of ‘God’s idea.’