Since Donald Trump won the election on Nov. 8, all eyes have been on him: his questionable call to Taiwan, his calls to deport millions of immigrants from this country. But Trump’s grandeur has overshadowed a large problem — Vice President-elect Mike Pence.
A born-again Evangelical, former Republican Governor of Indiana, Pence calls himself a “Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order.” While serving as Indiana’s governor, Pence took his Christian values and his conservative ideologies, and used them to effectively wage war against women.
With a personal vendetta against Planned Parenthood and abortion, Pence created one of the strictest abortion laws in America and worked tirelessly to defund and close all Planned Parenthood locations in Indiana. Sitting snugly beside Trump in the White House, a man who shares Pence’s opposition to abortion and his desire to defund Planned Parenthood, Pence will no doubt continue to strip away a woman’s right to make decisions for herself.
In March, Pence signed a law that would have made it illegal for a woman to get an abortion based on the gender, the race or a known disability of the fetus. His law also held doctors who performed an abortion based on one of the aforementioned reasons legally liable for a wrongful death suit. Finally, the law required that any aborted fetus, regardless of the stage of development of said fetus, be either cremated or buried by the woman who had the abortion.
Pence’s law goes about 10 steps too far, exceeding almost every other abortion law in the country with its rigid hoops women must jump through to get a basic medical procedure. Less restrictive laws passed elsewhere in the country are contested enough, as they are literally the government telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her body. Pence’s law does more than just restrict where and how a woman can get an abortion — it tells her why she can and cannot seek one, how medical professionals must assess an abortion case and what the woman must do following an abortion.
The reason a woman chooses to pursue an abortion should not play a factor in whether or not her procedure is deemed legal by a state. Secondly, the decision to get an abortion, for many women, is traumatic in and of itself. For the legislature of Indiana, made up of 79.3 percent men, to sign into law a bill that forces women to bury the unborn fetus is disgusting and unnecessarily traumatic.
Lastly, holding a doctor accountable for the medical decision of their patient puts an entire profession in danger of being held liable for every single procedure done, for every single medicine prescribed and for every single consultation given to a patient. The job of a doctor is to advise the best treatment plan to their patient. The job of a doctor is not to extrapolate the personal reasons why their patient is seeking a procedure, including an abortion.
In addition to his personal war against women seeking and receiving abortions in Indiana, Pence successfully derailed Planned Parenthood. As governor, he slashed Planned Parenthood’s budget by more than 40 percent from 2005 levels in an attempt to combat abortions.
But Pence and his legislative cohorts failed to realize that Planned Parenthood, in their mind solely an abortion clinic, does much more than solely perform abortions. In fact, abortions make up only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. A much larger portion of their business, 42 percent to be exact, deals with testing for STDs.
The massive reduction of Planned Parenthood’s budget caused five non-abortion clinics to close their doors in Indiana. These clinics, punished for a service they did not even provide, were integral in preventing the spread of STDs in Indiana, as they provided critical testing for the surrounding communities. So while Pence wished to punish and prevent women from getting abortions, the end result of his hatred of Planned Parenthood ended in an incredible spike in HIV infections, so staggering that it required federal intervention. The rise in HIV was deemed an “epidemic” in Scott County, Indiana.
America was built on the backs of men who realized that government has its limits. Pence, by interjecting so fully into the reproductive decisions of women in Indiana, extends government to a place it has no place being — in the room with women making personal reproductive decisions.
Aly Niehans ([email protected]) is a freshman majoring in political science and international studies.