Words: Elle Griffiths
Seemingly timed to coincide with the new Handmaid’s Tale adaptation (due to drop on Hulu next month), Mike Pence has edged the US closer to a similarly misogynistic dystopia.
The Vice President broke a tie in the Senate on Thursday, casting a vote that will give states the right to withhold federal funds from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
In the last few weeks of President Obama’s tenure, the administration tried frantically to secure the women’s healthcare provider against the onslaught of an incoming Republican congress, by putting into place legislation that would protect against funding cuts.
But, with Pence’s decisive vote, this has now been overturned opening the flood gates for a raft of further attacks on women’s rights and bodily autonomy.
While Donald Trump’s right hand man cast a vote that could impact thousands of women’s lives, his name was – somewhat ironically – trending on social media for another female related reason.
A profile in the Washington Post on Pence’s wife Karen contained a quote he gave to a reporter back in 2002, in which he said that "never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won't attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side".
"If there's alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me," Pence said to a reporter at The Hill at the time.
The bizarre comments gave an insight into the lawyer and former governor of Indiana’s strained and problematic relationship with women, setting Twitter alight.
Several high profile figures waded into the fray, with many calling Pence a misogynist and pointing out the contradiction in his inability to be in a room alone with women while happily making sweeping decisions about their reproductive health.
A born-again Christian, Pence has form for intrusive and controversial lawmaking, and has never made a secret of his extreme views on abortion.
As governor of Indiana, he voted into law H.B. 1337- a bill that both banned certain abortion procedures and placed new restrictions on abortion providers.
In addition, the bill required that all fetal remains from abortions or miscarriages at any stage of pregnancy be buried or cremated. It was eventually blocked from being implemented.
Pence has continued his crusade to curb women’s rights since taking up his position in the Trump administration.
Speaking at a March for Life event in Washington DC, less than a week after the Women’s March, he told the crowds of anti-abortionists that “life was winning in America..”