What A Mike Pence Presidency Could Mean For Women

Former Vice President Mike Pence entered the 2024 presidential race in June 2023 with a media blitz including a video on Twitter, a speech in Iowa, and a live Town Hall event on CNN. Despite consistently polling in third place (behind Former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis), the staunchly conservative candidate proclaimed in his announcement video, "Today our party and our country need a leader that will appeal, as Lincoln said, to the better angels of our nature." However, Pence's decision to refuse President Trump's order to overturn the 2020 election during the January 6th insurrection was a turning point that will ultimately affect his candidacy. Insurrectionists storming the capitol chanted, "Hang Mike Pence" and that sentiment (for or against) has left a lasting impression. 

However, beyond Pence's former boss, his voting record is another difficult element of his candidacy that has made him a less-than-popular candidate with many Republicans and Independents. Another concerning element is the fact that Pence openly acknowledges his use of Scripture and prayer as part of his political decision-making and this has influenced his views on important contemporary issues. He famously described himself as, "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order." However, nowhere is this influence more clear than Pence's position on women's and LGBTQ+ rights. With women's healthcare protections at the forefront of the upcoming election, a conservative religious candidate like Pence has the potential to be truly detrimental to the future of women's rights.

Policies on women's rights and abortion

After Roe v. Wade was overturned in 2022, Pence made it clear he wanted abortion banned in all fifty states, "We must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land."  He reiterated almost this exact same phrase during his CNN Town Hall on June 7, 2023 while also declaring, "I couldn't be more proud to be vice president in an administration that appointed three of the justices that sent Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history." Pence has also voiced support for banning the abortion pill nationwide and sponsored bills to defund Planned Parenthood during every single year he was in Congress.

On top of that, Pence has also sponsored antiquated and extreme bills aimed at eliminating abortion access. From attempting to redefine what constitutes rape, to attempting to define a fertilized egg as an actual person, these bills were convoluted ways to ultimately restrict abortion access. As Governor of Indiana, he signed every single piece of anti-abortion legislation that crossed his desk. In the eight bills he signed, the legislation included things like preventing "discrimination" against a fetus on the basis of disability as a way to discourage women from having abortions even if their doctors discovered debilitating chromosomal issues in a fetus. Pence also signed legislation that would ban private insurance coverage for abortions and a bill that required funerary services for all fetuses regardless of the stage of development. At every opportunity, Pence has proven his disregard for women's rights and has worked tirelessly to contribute to the restriction and elimination of women's healthcare options

Policies on social issues

Perhaps the only thing Pence has dedicated himself to more than banning abortion is his attempts to limit LGBTQ+ rights. As Governor of Indiana, Pence famously signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, a religious liberty law that essentially allowed businesses to deny services to LGBTQ+ people. He signed this bill behind closed doors alongside religious leaders and Christian members of the Republican party and only amended the law to protect LGBTQ+ people after intense national criticism and protests.

Not only does Pence not support expanding LGBTQ+ rights, but he is actively working to eliminate them. During a town hall event on June 7, 2023, Pence told CNN, "I strongly support state legislation [...] that bans all gender transition, chemical or surgical procedures, under the age of 18." He compared transitioning to getting a tattoo and emphasized that even with parental permission, he would still oppose a minor's ability to transition.  Pence once argued that the "vast majority of the psychological community says homosexuality at a very minimum is a choice by the individual, and at the maximum, is a learned behavior." The American Psychological Association and LGBTQ+ members everywhere disagree.

Pence has previously voiced his opposition to hate crime prevention legislation that would criminalize attacks on LGBTQ+ people, saying in 2009 that there was no "evidence of any hate crimes occurring against individuals for gender identity." Pence voted against the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (the repeal allowed LGBTQ+ people to openly serve in the military), and against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act which would have prohibited hiring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. He did, however, support a bill that would have added a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Indiana and even co-sponsored a potential amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would have defined marriage as between a man and a woman.