Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s views on abortion rights are heavily influenced by his religion as aborn-again evangelical Catholic. During the first (and only) televised vice presidential debate of the 2016 election Tuesday night, he said, “For me, my faith informs my life.”
Though it may have been the first time watching Pence speak for some, many voters — particularly, many women — may already be familiar with Pence, who is one of the most extreme anti-abortion legislators in the country. “It all, for me, begins with cherishing the dignity, the worth, the value, of every human life,” he said.
Earlier this year, Pence signed a controversial anti-abortion law that would have banned abortions of fetuses sought over gender, race, ancestry, or diagnosis of a genetic disorder. The law also criminalized fetal tissue collection or transferring, a practice that is vital to life-saving fetal tissue donation and research (including for understanding the Zika virus), and required women to view the fetal ultrasound hours before receiving an abortion. The law was so far-reaching that women in Indiana began calling Pence’s office to tell him about their periods — you know, since he seems to care about women’s reproductive health so much. A federal judge blocked the law in June.
As a member of Congress and later as governor, Pence also gutted Planned Parenthood funding in his state, which resulted in the closure of multiple clinics. In 2015, this “inadvertently created” an HIV outbreak in one Indiana town, Media Matters reported, “by shutting down access to the only HIV testing centers available to many residents.”
Though there is little doubt how extreme Pence’s anti-abortion stance is, he made it explicitly clear on the campaign trail. “I’m pro-life and I don’t apologize for it,” he said during a town hall in July. Of a Trump/Pence administration, he said, “We’ll see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”
Pence also has a history of making homophobic comments. In 2006, he said that same-sex couples were a sign of “societal collapse,” and he voted against repealing the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. Last year, Pence signed a religious freedom bill that critics said enables anti-gay and other types of discrimination. According to the Huffington Post, the bill “would allow any individual or corporation to cite its religious beliefs as a defense when sued by a private party” — meaning that businesses that “don’t want to serve same-sex couples, for example, could now have legal protections to discriminate.” After the backlash from business leaders, Politico reports that Pence “backpedaled on language” in the bill that worried critics.
Oh, and for an extra kick in the pants: While in Congress, Pence voted against the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — which calls for equal pay for women — three times.