Trump And Pence Aren’t Being Honest About Abortion
President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrive in Newport News, Virginia for a rally on September 25. (Photo: Tom Brenner / Reuters)
Mike Pence has been anti-abortion policy throughout his political career - as a congressman, governor of Indiana, and vice president of Donald Trump.
At the vice-presidential debate on Wednesday, when presenter Susan Page Pence asked if he would welcome Indiana banning abortion if Roe's landmark decision against Wade was overturned, he evaded the question. Suddenly the anti-abortion crusader had little to say on the subject that has animated much of his public life.
This is a man whose views on abortion are so extreme that he once said, "I long for the day Roe v. Wade will be sent to the ashes of history."
During the debate, Pence did not mention his prediction that legal abortion will end "in our time" or boast about the progress that the anti-abortion movement has made under the Trump administration. He said he's not even sure how Amy Coney Barrett, Trump's Supreme Court nominee, about Roe v. Wade, who legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. Instead, it revolved around the attack on former Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his candidacy buddy, California Senator Kamala Harris, falsely accusing them of supporting abortion "until the moment of birth."
When Pence was given the opportunity to share his vision for the future of abortion rights, he stumbled. Trump did the same in the presidential debate the week before. When Biden realized that Roe would likely be at stake if Barrett was confirmed, Trump disagreed, saying, "I don't think so. Nothing is happening there. You don't know her view of Roe v. Wade." His reluctance to say about it discussing how his election might affect access to abortion caught his eye in the light of his 2016 commitment to appoint only anti-abortion judges.
Now that Trump and his administration are closer than ever to their goal of ending legal abortion, they are tiptoeing around on the public stage in order not to state their full intentions. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) also adopted that strategy, downplaying the Supreme Court's chances of overthrowing Roe, even after she signed a brief summons to the court earlier this year.
This is likely because the public disagrees with their extreme views on abortion.
"The answer is because they're way out of the mainstream," Tresa Undem, a pollster who has followed opinion on abortion for years, told HuffPost.
While abortion is a complicated, nuanced topic for many people, general public support remains high. As of 2019, 61% believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, compared to 38% who believe it should be illegal in all or most cases, according to the Pew Research Center. And 70% don't want the Supreme Court Roe v. Calf falls completely.
Independent voters are twice as likely to endorse a presidential candidate who advocates abortion rights and access, Undem said. Trump and Pence may therefore be concerned that talking about restricting abortion could lead undecided voters, especially women, to support Biden.
"This government and Republicans across the country have made great, great strides on their abortion agenda," she continued. The fact that neither Trump nor Pence were willing to acknowledge this during the debates shows that they know their positions are unpopular.
"You take the undisputed position that abortion doesn't attack," she said.
Barrett's appointment to the Supreme Court has put the issue of abortion center stage with less than a month to election day. The strict Catholic is personally against abortion and in 2006 signed a newspaper advertisement in which the “barbaric legacy of Roe v. Wade ”was slandered. Critics fear that if Barrett is appointed, he will undermine the right to abortion and even vote to overthrow Roe. Anti-abortion groups are thrilled with the prospect.
However, Barrett and Pence's anti-abortion stance does not represent the opinion of most voters. A HuffPost / YouGov poll of registered voters, conducted after Barrett's nomination, found that a slim majority of the public would not want abortion any further out of reach. When asked how they felt about the Supreme Court's abortion restrictions, 29% of respondents said they are in favor of keeping the restrictions the same and 25% are in favor of lifting existing ones. Only 27% of respondents said they wanted more restrictions on the procedure. The rest of the respondents, 19%, weren't sure.
Trump also faces a potentially historic gender gap ahead of Election Day, with Biden leading the way with female voters. Abortion is extremely common with nearly one in four American women suffering from the procedure by the age of 45, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit reproductive health care research group.
“It's pretty telling that both Trump and Pence had a tough pass when they were given the perfect opportunity to articulate what they kept saying. That said, they are determined to fill the Supreme Court with justices who Roe v. Wade would overthrow and give the issue back to states in full with the aim of completely banning abortion, "Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health, told HuffPost. “I think that tells us that they are gradually coming to terms with the reality that not only is their position inconsistent with what the vast majority of the people in this country want, but that it is a really lost position in this election cycle . "
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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