Regardless of the time of day, the news is plastered with Trump’s wacky tweets and insolent remarks. However, the President’s importance as the leader of one of the most powerful democracies in the world often overshadows that of his closest ally: Mike Pence. Perhaps the majority of the American populace doesn’t raise questions about the Vice President because they rarely see him on their news feeds.
Delving into Pence’s stances on pertinent issues is quite frightening. His past actions as Governor of Indiana alongside his views on women, marriage and homosexuality are flagrantly toxic.
To sum up Pence’s beliefs about women: abortion shouldn’t be a right, women shouldn’t be in the military, women and men shouldn’t share the same roles in a marriage.
The Vice President is pro-life, a standpoint he justified by proclaiming he “cherish[es] the dignity, the worth, the value of every human life.” In this instance, Pence uses his strong Christian values as a tool to defend his terrifying rhetoric, which misleadingly paints him as an individual concerned with the ‘well-being’ of society. The issue is, he overlooked the fact that providing women the choice to carry out an abortion is valuing their “dignity, worth, […] life”.
However, this glaring flaw in his logic of denying women the right to abort isn’t always apparent in the eyes of state lawmakers. As Pence is an avid supporter of state laws, each state would have the opportunity to implement detrimental abortion laws. In Kentucky in 2016, the HB2 law was proposed, which would legally require women to have an ultrasound before an abortion and doctors to provide women with the details of the fetus in the ultrasound. This attempt to instil guilt within women who have decided to abort for their own health, financial reasons or any other circumstances, is simply appalling.
Fortunately, this was rejected by a federal judge due to infringing upon the First Amendment and appearing “to inflict psychological harm on abortion patients” Even though this anti-abortion law wasn’t established, it perhaps foreshadows that other states might take the chance to enact their own anti-abortion laws, and they might not necessarily be stopped by the federal government.
Pence’s restrictions on women’s rights isn’t limited to reproductive rights. He even comments on a woman’s participation in the military. In 1999, he wrote an Op-Ed criticizing the Disney film Mulan, of urging women to join the military. He wrote: “Disney expects us to believe that Mulan’s ingenuity and courage were enough to carry her to military success on an equal basis with her cloddish cohort.” This implies that in real life, Mulan would not have been able to basically save China from the Huns because she is a woman and therefore unequal to her male counterparts.
He additionally suggested that the director placed Mulan in an army of several men because it reflects reality, where “young men find many young women to be attractive sexually”. Thus when they’re in the same space for a prolonged period of time, they’ll eventually end up engaging in some form of relations. Hence, he declared that “women in military, bad idea”.
Not only does his attack on the popular Disney film demonstrate that he sees women as sexual objects, but it also just demeans women in every way possible. This mindset is detrimental to the women who are currently serving in the military, because it deprives them of basic respect and doesn’t give them credit for what they’ve done for the country.
Unsurprisingly, Pence’s views on a woman’s role in a marriage are just as harmful. In 1997, he wrote a letter addressed to the Indianapolis Star editor, where he said “day-care kids” experience “stunted emotional growth”. By “day-care kids,” he insinuates that both the parents are working, hence the child is in a day-care. However, Pence only places importance on the mother being home, and not the father.
He used a study from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to put forth the verdict that “a child cared for by others was less affectionate toward his mother.” To defend his words, he claims that he’s “criticizing a culture that has sold the big lie that ‘Mom doesn’t matter.’” Pence doesn’t outright say that he has an issue with working moms, but rather, he tries to blame society for diminishing the value we place in mothers by driving them into the workforce. These so called family values he champions, aren’t family values in any way, because it treats one member very differently from the other.
Alongside his horrifying views of women, his opinions about homosexuality and same-sex marriage immediately raise a red flag.
In his 2000 Congressional campaign website, he said that the money dedicated to researching HIV/AIDS should be transferred to conversion therapy, which would “seek to change their sexual behavior”. Conversion therapy is extremely problematic in its suggestion that homosexuality is a disorder and suggests that sexuality is a choice that people have. Homosexuality is not a disorder, and no one chooses their sexual orientation, it’s an inherent part of an individual’s identity. Hence conversion therapy “has been rejected by all the major mental health professions” because it’s “brutal, inhuman psychological and at times physical abuse.”
In 2011, his amendment to cut funding for Planned Parenthood was approved by the House. This drove a local Planned Parenthood to shut down two years later in Scott County, which was the only provider of HIV testing in that area. In the county, approximately 20% of the people live below the poverty line and injection drugs are very popular, which increase HIV outbreaks. In 2015, health officials discovered that HIV cases were the cause of people injecting opioids into their bloodstream. To do this, residents were “sharing needs and nobody was getting tested”. This went into a spiral of HIV outbreaks, where 20 new cases were being confirmed every week. As a result of Pence’s views on HIV research funding, 200 new people were affected by the virus. His views are therefore dangerous.
The root cause of these aforementioned opinions lies in the fact that he objects to same-sex marriage, which he believes should not be on “equal legal status with heterosexual marriage”. In 2006, while he was delivering a speech on the House Floor, he called for backing of the anti-gay Marriage Protection Act, because otherwise, there would be a “deterioration of the family” and a “societal collapse.” The hurt and frustration that the overall LGBTQ community must feel over these comments is unimaginable. Pence treats them with such disrespect just because of their sexual orientation.
His noxious view on same-sex marriage took form as the “religious liberty” bill that he signed as the Governor of Indiana, which would give the employer the right to exclude LGBTQ people and communities from being hired or served at their establishments. Pence was forced to reduce the harshness of this bill after public outrage. However, only a year later, he once again tried to pass anti-LGBTQ laws, showing his dedication and persistence.
Mike Pence has toxic views and he clearly has the intention of implementing laws that support his inimical beliefs. As the Vice President, he has immense power and influence over the current impressionable President, meaning his position is cause for great concern. That’s why when we rally for removing Trump from office, we should think about the monster we would bring to power instead.