The Reproductive Rights Discussion During The Vice Presidential Debate Was Too Short
In the only vice presidential debate of the 2016 election season, Mike Pence and Tim Kaine faced off at Longwood University in Farmsville, Virginia. The debate comes a little more than a week after the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton — a debate that left many people wondering how the last month of the presidential race will shake out. If anything's for sure in the current political climate, it's that anything can happen, and the vice presidential debate proved to fall in line with that theme as well. One thing that wasn't particularly emphasized in Tuesday's VP debate, though? A discussion about reproductive rights.
Granted, the discussion did happen, but not until over an hour into the debate. It's especially curious that issues like abortion rights and women's healthcare didn't come up until well into the evening, given that Pence is particularly passionate about restricting women's rights. Although Trump's views are certainly dangerous for women's access to healthcare, birth control, and abortions, his track record on the issues is much less clear than is Pence's.
The Indiana governor has supported multiple bills and initiatives that would defund Planned Parenthood and prevent government money being allotted to similar organizations that provide abortions. And if that isn't quite enough to communicate Pence's views on women's reproductive rights, according to Mother Jones, Pence has been quoted saying that he'd like to "send Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history." Pence is decidedly pro-life.
And as New York Magazine reports, Pence has also said that working mothers stunt the "emotional growth" of their children, according to a letter discovered by CNN. Pence's political views are conservative through and through — even if the same can't always be said for his running mate.
Kaine differs from Pence in the sense that his political actions reflect support of a women's right to choose. According to CNN, Pence was quoted in saying that he doesn't believe the government should interfere with "people's reproductive decisions." Kaine has also consistently voted against bills that would defund Planned Parenthood.
While it's encouraging that the debate did provide a platform for the discussion of reproductive rights, it's disappointing that the conversation seemed to be such a small part of the debate. The fact of the matter is that there's far too much at stake this election to not know exactly what each candidate's stances are on issues like abortion. And while Pence's former political leanings indicate his positions quite clearly, only time (and more debates) will tell exactly where Trump stands.