NATIONAL NEWS

Pence would ban abortions when pregnancies aren’t viable. His GOP rivals won’t say if they agree

Jul 12, 2023, 2:43 AM

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the Faith a...

FILE - Republican presidential candidate former Vice President Mike Pence speaks during the Faith and Freedom Coalition Policy Conference in Washington, June 23, 2023. Pence is leaning in on his anti-abortion stance as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination. Pence says he does not support exceptions in the case of nonviable pregnancies, when doctors have determined there is no chance a baby will survive outside the womb.(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — In a Republican presidential field full of candidates opposed to abortion rights, Mike Pence stands out in his embrace of the cause.

The former vice president, who is seeking the White House in 2024, is the only candidate who supports a federal ban on abortion at six weeks, before many women know they’re pregnant. He has advocated pulling from the market one of two widely used abortion pills, a medication with a better safety record than penicillin and Viagra. And he’s implored his Republican rivals to back a 15-week federal ban as a minimum national standard, which most have not done.

In a recent interview, Pence went even further, saying abortion should be banned when a pregnancy isn’t viable. Such a standard would force women to carry pregnancies to term even when doctors have determined there is no chance a baby will survive outside the womb.

“I’m pro-life. I don’t apologize for it,” Pence said. “I just have heard so many stories over the years of courageous women and families who were told that their unborn child would not go to term or would not survive. And then they had a healthy pregnancy and a healthy delivery.”

Doctors disputed Pence’s characterization, saying there are conditions that are always incompatible with life and others where the chance of survival is so slim that most patients, when previously given the choice, concluded that continuing the pregnancy wasn’t worth the risks.

Pence, however, is undeterred.

“I want to always err on the side of life,” he said. “I would hold that view in these matters because … I honestly believe that we got this extraordinary opportunity in the country today to restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law.”

Those comments place Pence firmly to the right of the 2024 presidential field and alone among GOP candidates, who largely declined to take a stance on the issue. And they drew alarms from obstetricians and doctors who say nonviable pregnancies are far more common than people realize. Those range from ectopic pregnancies, when an embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, to fatal fetal abnormalities and severe pregnancy complications.

Banning abortions in these cases, doctors say, leads to outcomes that are cruel and put women’s lives and mental health at risk.

“One of the things that you cannot understate is the difficulty for a woman to carry a nonviable pregnancy,” said Alan Peaceman, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “It is psychological torture to go out in the world, for people to see your pregnancy — and people will come up to you and want to talk about your pregnancy. And that puts the woman in a terrible position that nobody should be in unless they chose to be in that position.”

Once an issue largely hidden from public view, nonviable pregnancies have faced greater scrutiny since the Supreme Court ended the constitutional right to an abortion last year, ushering in a wave of bans and restrictions in Republican-led states. Those moves have implications not only for unwanted pregnancies but also for cases in which women receive heartbreaking diagnoses, often when they’re months along into pregnancies that were deeply desired.

In states like Texas, Florida and Louisiana, women have described the anguish of being denied abortions even when they know their babies will be stillborn or die shortly after birth. Some have had to wait until they developed life-threatening infections for intervention. Others have spent thousands of dollars to travel to states where the procedure is still allowed.

Sarah Prager, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Washington Medical Center, said she and her colleagues have seen a steady stream of patients coming from states where abortions are now banned. About 11% of those patients, she said, have received a serious diagnosis, including cases in which there is no chance of the fetus surviving.

“They are often absolutely shocked to learn that the abortion laws also prohibit them from being able to get care to be safe,” she said.

Spokespeople for leading Republican presidential candidates, including former President Donald Trump, largely declined to say whether they back Pence’s position. Trump, the early front-runner, has repeatedly said he backs exceptions in cases of rape, incest and the life of the mother and blamed hard-line abortion stances for costing the party in last year’s midterm elections.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is polling a distant second, signed a six-week ban in Florida that includes an exception for fatal fetal abnormalities, along with rape, incest and to save the mother’s life. He has declined to say whether he supports a federal ban.

A spokesperson for former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, the sole woman in the GOP field, said she “will sign pro-life legislation that includes exceptions for rape, incest, and for the life of the mother,” suggesting she, too, may be opposed to an exception for nonviable pregnancies — but declined to clarify.

Pence’s push to end abortion puts him at odds with the majority of Americans who broadly oppose the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade reversal.

But Pence, an evangelical Christian, argues that restricting abortion is “more important than politics” and calls it the “cause of our time.”

Nine states with abortion restrictions explicitly exempt cases of lethal fetal anomalies, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group that supports abortion rights. Even in states with such exemptions, however, doctors say there can be confusion.

“How lethal does it have to be?” Peaceman asked. “Does it have to die within the first few hours? Or the first 30 days?”

At the same time, doctors risk felony convictions that can carry five or 10 years of mandatory prison time if others dispute their conclusions, leading to conservative interpretations of what they complain are overly broad and confusing rules.

Eric Scheidler, the executive director of the Pro-Life Action League, a nonprofit that advocates against abortion, accused “politically motivated physicians” of focusing on “edge cases” to “maintain a broad abortion license.”

Nonetheless, he said he thinks candidates should focus on the majority of abortions that involve healthy pregnancies.

“I really want to see these candidates talk about where we have areas of broad consensus,” he said, adding, “I don’t want to get hung up on these very rare cases.”

National News

Associated Press

Illinois semitruck accident kills 1, injures 5 and prompts ammonia leak evacuation

TEUTOPOLIS, Ill. (AP) — A semitruck carrying ammonia overturned in an Illinois county, spilling the chemical and causing an evacuation of area residents Friday night, police said. The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office said the accident happened less than 1 mile (1.6 kilometers) east of Teutopolis near an intersection of Route 40 and residents were evacuated […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

New York stunned and swamped by record-breaking rainfall as more downpours are expected

NEW YORK (AP) — One of New York’s wettest days in decades left the metropolitan area stunned and swamped Friday after heavy rainfall knocked out several subway and commuter rail lines, stranded drivers on highways, flooded basements and shuttered a terminal at LaGuardia Airport for hours. Some 8.65 inches (21.97 centimeters) of rain had fallen […]

4 hours ago

In this photo provided by the Ocean Exploration Trust, the chrysanthemum flower crest, an honored i...

Associated Press

Video provides first clear views of WWII aircraft carriers lost in the pivotal Battle of Midway

Footage from deep in the Pacific Ocean has given the first detailed look at three World War II aircraft carriers that sank in the pivotal Battle of Midway and could help solve mysteries about the days-long barrage that marked a shift in control of the Pacific theater from Japanese to U.S. forces. Remote submersibles operating […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

On the brink of a government shutdown, the Senate tries to approve funding but it’s almost too late

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. is on the brink of a federal government shutdown after hard-right Republicans in Congress rejected a longshot effort to keep offices open as they fight for steep spending cuts and strict border security measures that Democrats and the White House say are too extreme. Come midnight Saturday with no deal […]

5 hours ago

FILE - Federal prosecutor Leo Wise poses for a photograph at the U.S. Attorney's Office in downtown...

Associated Press

Prosecutor in Hunter Biden case cut a contentious path in Baltimore

BALTIMORE (AP) — Before being assigned to investigate President Joe Biden’s son, Leo Wise built a reputation in Baltimore as a tough and hard-charging federal prosecutor, taking on powerful, and seemingly untouchable, figures — whether a gang of corrupt cops, a police commissioner, a top local prosecutor and even a mayor. Wise’s backers call him […]

5 hours ago

A portion of a mural by artist sloe_motions depicting Oscar De La Hoya, Vin Scully, Kobe Bryant, Sn...

Associated Press

Arrest in Tupac Shakur killing stemmed from Biggie Smalls death investigation

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The first arrest in the 1996 slaying of Tupac Shakur had its roots in the investigation of the killing of Biggie Smalls. The shooting deaths of the two hip-hop luminaries and rivals — Shakur in Las Vegas and Smalls in Los Angeles six months later — have always been culturally inseparable, […]

5 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Pence would ban abortions when pregnancies aren’t viable. His GOP rivals won’t say if they agree