If the laws championed by Indiana Gov. Michael Pence were instituted nationwide, women’s health services in the United States would look a lot different than they do today.
Women across the country would be prohibited from getting an abortion because of a fetus’ disability.
Doctors could be prosecuted for “wrongful death” if they performed an abortion under those circumstances.
Planned Parenthood could lose up to half of its government funding, forcing office closures across the nation.
Fetuses would be granted rights under the Constitution’s 14th amendment — the one that eliminated slavery.
And women would be required to hold so-called “fetus funerals” for the remains of unborn children from abortions and miscarriages.
Pence, 57, has been unwavering in his conservative views since being elected to the House of Representatives in 2000, and serving six terms.
He has continued this consistency after being elected Indiana governor in 2012.
As Pence prepares to accept the nomination as Donald Trump’s vice presidential running mate at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio, on Wednesday night, his record on women’s healthcare issues is coming under closer scrutiny.
Officials at the Indiana governor’s office, as well as the National Right to Life organization, did not respond to Healthline requests for interviews for this story.
“His policies are so offensive and so disrespectful of women,” Terry O’Neill, president of NOW, told Healthline.
“Mike Pence has been on a years-long crusade against women’s healthcare and access to abortion in this country, no matter how many women’s lives are put at risk,” added Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “A Trump-Pence ticket should send a shiver down the spine of women in this country.”
Pence, a father of three, bases much of his opposition to abortion on his religious convictions.
“I would say that my Christian faith and my relationship with my wife, Karen, are the two most dominant influences in my life today,” Pence said during his 2012 gubernatorial campaign.
His legislative agenda reflects his unabashed belief in the right to life movement, including his support for overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States.
Pence even co-sponsored a bill in Congress — the Life at Conception Act and the Right to Life Act. Both proposals would have given fetuses rights under the 14th amendment by defining personhood as beginning at the “moment of fertilization,” according to a blog by Right Wing Watch.
Pence has a long history of supporting bills that restrict abortion access, but perhaps his most famous piece of legislation came this year as Indiana governor.
In March, Pence signed legislation to make Indiana the second state in the nation to outlaw abortions based on race, gender, or disability.
“I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers, and families,” Pence said in a statement.
Indiana’s House Bill 1337 makes doctors legally liable for wrongful death if they perform an abortion they know was motivated by one of those prohibited reasons.
In late June, a federal judge blocked the law, saying it was an illegal limit on a women’s right to choose.
Part of that law also required all fetal tissue to be cremated or buried.
The law applied whether the tissue came from an abortion or a miscarriage. It also doesn’t matter how far along a pregnancy was.
In some cases, a woman who was, say, eight weeks pregnant might have a miscarriage and not even know it, medical experts told Vox.com.
O’Neill said the law could also effectively ban all medication-induced abortions such as those from the pill mifepristone.
“There are times when it’s not possible to preserve the fetus,” she said.
Some dubbed the provisions “fetus funerals.”
This law also prompted some women to form a group called “Periods for Pence.”
In a somewhat humorous manner, they started calling the governor’s office to inform them about their menstrual cycles since they insisted he cared so much about them.
When Pence was announced as Trump’s running mate, members of the group flooded Trump campaign headquarters with similar calls.
Pence also has a long history of opposing funding for Planned Parenthood.
From 2007 to 2011, Pence led campaigns in Congress to eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
At one point, he even supported shutting down the federal government over the issue.
“If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not be in the business of providing abortions,” Pence told Politico in 2011. “As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.”
And governor Pence has continued that crusade.
By 2014, state funding for Planned Parenthood in Indiana had been cut nearly in half from what it was in 2005, according to an article in Mother Jones magazine.
The cuts prompted the organization to close five of its smaller clinics.
One of those was in Scott County, which in 2015 experienced an outbreak of HIV. Planned Parenthood supporters cited the closure of that clinic, which provided testing for sexually transmitted diseases, as one of the reasons.
In an email to Healthline, Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said Pence has “a long history of targeted political attacks against the care provided at Planned Parenthood health centers in Indiana and across the country.”
O’Neill said she can’t fathom why Pence has been so stridently opposed to women and their healthcare issues his entire political career.
“I don’t understand it. I can’t explain it,” she said. “To be crushing women’s rights just because he has the power to do so.”
And if a Vice President Pence was able to push his legislative agenda through Congress?
“We would become a country that hates women,” said O’Neill.