Donald Trump just announced Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his VP running mate. If the name sounds familiar, even if you haven't been paying attention to the days of speculation about the pick, it's probably because of Pence's work regarding women's reproductive rights.
The Republican first made national headlines on this subject in 2011 when, as a representative to Congress from his state's 2nd District, he sought to defund Planned Parenthood because it provides abortions. Until that time, the women's health organization had made it through numerous GOP Congresses and never become such a big target.
"What was apparent to me then was there was some unwritten agreement that we had arrived at an unstated truce between pro-abortion and pro-life legislators," Pence told Politico during the session.
The "Pence amendment" failed, but he resumed his fight in Indiana when he was elected governor in 2013. This March, Pence signed into law a ban on abortions sought because a fetus has an abnormality -- making the state's already restrictive abortion statutes even more restrictive. The new law also mandates that the remains of an aborted fetus be interred or cremated. This requirement also applies to miscarriages.
The governor described the law as "an important step in protecting the unborn." And he added, "I sign this legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families,” he added.
In choosing the 57-year-old Pence, Trump has likely catapulted abortion to the forefront of the 2016 presidential campaign. To understand just how big of a gamble this is, it's important to look at how polarizing the reaction to Pence's abortion ideals have been in the past.
Social conservative groups declared the governor their hero because of the new state law. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union were outraged. One Indiana woman attacked Pence and the law on Facebook and Twitter (through the hashtag #PeriodsForPence), explaining that having to inter or cremate fetuses from miscarriages was absurd.
On June 30, as part of a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood and ACLU, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction blocking the law from taking effect. The state has not said whether it will appeal. Separately, Indiana University has filed a suit against another part of the new law regarding fetal tissue, arguing that it would illegally cause important work with cell cultures from fetal tissues to come to a standstill.
The campaign of presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is already trying to use Pence's words against him. In a widely distributed video, Clinton aims to portray Pence as someone having un-American views rather than someone representing a large constituency. The ad features him disparaging the Supreme Court's landmark abortion ruling. "I long for the day that Roe v. Wade is sent to the ash heap of history," he says.
"Pence is perhaps the most extreme VP pick in a generation," Clinton blasted in a lengthy statement her campaign released almost immediately after Trump's announcement.
She added, "Pence also personally led the fight to defund Planned Parenthood while serving in the House and fought to pass Indiana's 2016 anti-abortion law, with some of the most outrageous restrictions in the country that threatened women’s privacy and limited their choice."