By Lauren Salmiery
Hey Republicans, trying to run away from Donald Trump by embracing Mike Pence is no solution to the sexism and misogyny dominating that campaign. Yet, too many of you are pretending it is.
At first glance, this may have seemed like a somewhat acceptable idea for Republicans looking for an alternative to their current candidate. As he walked across the stage at the Vice Presidential debate in early October, Mike Pence looked poised, calm, and ready for his moment in the spotlight. Though his public appearance and demeanor may present him as a well-seasoned politician willing to work for American families, supporting the American public is the last thing on Pence’s to-do list. He has used his political success as a platform to push his misogynist agenda through the state of Indiana for nearly two decades. Under the mask of religion, Pence has successfully launched his own war on women, and is now taking it to the national stage.
Pence has spearheaded the movement to defund Planned Parenthood, a service provider that offers reproductive healthcare to women and men across the country including cervical cancer screenings, STD exams, pregnancy, men’s health exams, and safe abortion care. Considering Pence has stated that “condoms are a very, very poor protection” against sexually transmitted diseases, it’s blatant that he has no business talking about women’s health, let alone legislating it, but his lack of factual knowledge has not stopped him.
Among the many backward laws he has signed is a recent omnibus bill that requires women who have abortions to hire a funeral home to dispose of the remains, and to require all abortion providers to have admitting privileges in a nearby hospital. Laws just like this one have been struck down in other states as an undue burden because abortion is such a safe procedure. The real objective of these unnecessary laws is to make it far more difficult for women to obtain comprehensive reproductive health care, and to punish and shame those women that do make it through the obstacles and receive an abortion.
Donald Trump threatened to punish women for abortion, but Mike Pence has already punished them. After experiencing the loss of her fetus at 24-weeks, one Indiana woman, Purvi Patel was sentenced to 30 years in an Indiana prison for neglect of a dependent, and six years for feticide. Patel was charged for crimes as if she had committed murder. Prosecutors used a 17th century test known as “the lung float test” to prove that Patel’s fetus was alive; the archaic theory has been proven unreliable by countless medical practitioners over the past half-century. The feticide charge was later dropped by a judge who stated “that the legislature did not intend for the feticide statute to apply to illegal abortions or to be used to prosecute women for their own abortions.”
As he now struggles to defend Donald Trump’s absurd verbal and physical attacks on women, I can’t help but wonder if Pence truly sees the issue with Trump’s statements at all. If a person can work so hard to demean women, limit their freedoms, oppress their liberties, and threaten their health and wellbeing, is he entirely blind to rape culture? For a man who so strongly identifies himself with traditional family values, how can Pence continue to threaten American families by attacking their basic healthcare rights?
The reality is that Pence and his club of anti-choice, pro-birthers are out of step with their constituents, with American families, and with constitutional law. The majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade and increasing access to contraception and do not approve of the misogyny displayed by the Republican Presidential nominee. Maybe Pence should spend some time listening to Americans. Maybe he should attend a health class to learn about how the human body works, or reread the First Amendment, or listen to the thousands of mothers who have been saved by breast and cervical cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country to understand just how terrible of a politician he is. People who put their religious beliefs before the human and constitutional rights of women – just like Pence – belong nowhere near a public office.