Thursday, October 6, 2016

Mike Pence: misogynist in chief

Thinking about who is more misogynist, poses more danger to women's rights and freedoms: Trump or Pence, may seem like a "who's worse: Hitler or Stalin" exercise, but Emily Crockett takes on the task, and comes out concluding:

... Pence’s substance is much worse for women than Trump’s style. Pence has one of the most extreme records on women’s health and rights in the Republican Party. And he doesn’t just hold extreme views; he’s also been very effective at making them a political reality. Trump’s boorishness threatens to make Pence’s radical attacks on women’s health seem moderate and reasonable by comparison. And that’s dangerous.
Let’s start with Pence’s obsession with defunding Planned Parenthood — which is at least as intense as Trump’s decade-long obsession with insulting Rosie O’Donnell.
In recent years, it’s become almost a ritual for Republicans in Congress to threaten to shut down the government, or hold up essential bills like Zika prevention, over defunding Planned Parenthood.
That’s all thanks to Pence, who started the trend while he was in Congress. Before 2007, when Pence was the first member of Congress to introduce legislation to defund Planned Parenthood, it wasn’t something most Republicans talked about. But he kept pushing the issue until it led to a government shutdown fight in 2011 — and pretty soon, bashing Planned Parenthood became routine for most Republicans.
This also started a major trend of defunding Planned Parenthood at the state level, which in many cases has gutted access to contraception, STI screening, and other basic health services as well as abortion. Planned Parenthood is a major health care provider, especially for low-income people. And, contrary to Republican talking points, it’s just not logistically possible for other providers to step up and fill in the gaps that would surface if Planned Parenthood’s funding is diverted elsewhere.
Pence has signed every bill restricting reproductive health in Indiana that crossed his desk, but his war on Planned Parenthood had some especially dire consequences for his state. After Pence cut funding for the women’s health provider, a rural Planned Parenthood — which was the only HIV testing center in Scott County, Indiana — was forced to close its doors in 2013. Two years later, Scott County became the epicenter of a devastating HIV outbreak.
Planned Parenthood has also been spuriously attacked for its role in fetal tissue research, which may have inspired Pence to sign an anti-abortion bill this year that was so extreme even many pro-life Republicans opposed it. The law, which was later overturned by a federal judge, required all fetal tissue — at any stage of development, and no matter whether it came from an abortion or a miscarriage — to be cremated or buried.
This would not only have prevented fetal tissue from being used in research; it would also have forced women to seek funerary services for their fetuses, whether they wanted to or not. The bill also banned abortion in cases of “disability,” which meant outlawing abortion even in cases of serious fetal anomaly.
These are what Pence’s policy victories look like. But his failed attempts are an even more sobering look at what might be.
If Pence had his way, more women would suffer or die from preventable health issues — whether from diseases that went untreated because of defunded health clinics, or complications from pregnancies where abortion would have been medically necessary, or injuries and deaths from unsafe illegal abortion.
More women would have unintended pregnancies because of reduced health care access, and they would be left no legal means to end them. And if they turned to illegal means — or even if they just suffered a natural miscarriage — they could end up in jail.
In Congress, Pence has repeatedly sponsored legislation to give “personhood” rights to fertilized eggs, which would ban all abortion and possibly some forms of contraception. He did not succeed in passing any of these, but he’s made clear what his goal is.
We know what it looks like in practice when abortion is banned: women suffering and dying from unsafe illegal abortions, or being thrown in jail for miscarriage like in El Salvador.
But we don’t even need to look further than Pence’s own state of Indiana for examples of this. Last year, Purvi Patel became the first woman jailed in the US for the crime of "feticide" for allegedly terminating her own pregnancy. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison, but the feticide conviction was later overturned and Patel’s sentence was reduced to 18 months of time served.
National Advocates for Pregnant Women has documented hundreds of other cases of women in the US whose pregnancy outcomes have led to their criminal prosecution. That number would likely increase if abortion were outlawed — which is more than a theoretical possibility, given that Trump has promised to nominate Supreme Court judges who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Pence sponsored other extreme anti-abortion bills while in Congress. One would have denied some rape victims coverage for abortion, by redefining rape as “forcible” for the purpose of federal abortion funding. Another bill would have allowed Catholic hospitals to deny abortion even to pregnant women who would die without it.
It's worth your time to read the whole piece. I usually decline to play the Hitler vs Stalin type comparison games---to me, Trump and Pence are each moral horror shows, each in his own, non-comparable distinctive way. But Crockett is right that Trump's loathsomeness is apparent to most observers, even some of those who support him (because it is this loathsomeness which appeals to them,---so says my 'bad boyfriend' theory.). Pence's requires that you pay attention to his record, not his words, and his record shows that what he says is a deceptive attempt to cover up the moral outrage of his thirty plus years in public life.

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