In Tuesday’s vice presidential debate between Tim Kaine and Mike Pence, both discussed how their Catholic faith influenced their personal opinion on abortion. During the debate, Democratic candidate Kaine asked Pence,
Why don’t you trust women to make this choice for themselves? We can encourage people to support life. Of course we can. But why don’t you trust women? Why doesn’t Donald Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves?
In the wake of these comments, some accused Kaine of “trying to have it both ways”- playing to a demographic of people who personally oppose abortion, while also attempting to garner votes from the pro-choice electorate.
However, we really can have it both ways by taking public health initiatives that simultaneously improve women’s reproductive health care while lowering the rates of teen pregnancy and abortion. It’s being proven in Colorado, as well as in the Carolinas.
Providing access to safe, long-term, reversible contraception has helped Colorado lower their teen birth and abortion rate faster than the lowering national average. The state has provided IUDs and implants to low-income women and teenage girls for free since 2007. About 1 in 15 of low-income women in Colorado use one of these forms of contraception because of the availability of the program. Both the IUD and the implant can be taken out if a woman decides that she is ready to have children, but are more than 99% effective at preventing unwanted pregnancies.
Using Colorado’s lowered rate of abortion and lowered rate of unplanned pregnancies, it stands to reason that a good way to prevent ‘unnecessary’ abortion is to aid women in gaining access to contraception. A private grant was needed to provide the types of contraception used in Colorado. Currently, Medicaid is encouraging providers to educate young women about the possibility of long-term, reversible contraception.
Unfortunately, Pence has proven himself as being against contraception in several forms. As a congressman in 2002, Pence gave an interview with Wolf Blitzer that indicated he was against condom usage because he believed they are not effective enough to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (a stance that fellow Congressman Schakowsky compared to disavowing flu shots because they are not always effective). As a congressman and as governor of Indiana, Pence made it his mission to end funding to Planned Parenthood (the clinic where many low-income women go for access to contraception) through Title IX. With Pence as our vice president, could we really see the public health and contraception initiatives enacted that would truly prevent abortion?
As Tim Kaine asked, do Mike Pence and Donald Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves?