Who would've thought that the lone vice presidential debate would yield controversial moment after controversial moment? In what many assumed would be a tepid event, Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican Mike Pence traded barbs, discredited the opposing party's presidential picks, and uttered some startling phrases. In fact, Mike Pence told a massive lie about abortion toward the latter end of the event. During a particularly contentious exchange, the Indiana governor chose to attack the Democratic party for allegedly supporting what he referred to as "partial birth abortion."
Pence had this to say about Clinton's pro-choice politics, which he claims Kaine is now complicit in:
What I can't understand is with Hillary Clinton, and now senator Kaine at her side, is to support a practice like partial birth abortion. To hold to the view, and I know senator Kaine, you hold pro-life views personally, but the very idea that a child that is almost born into the world could still have their life taken from them is just anathema to me. And I can't conscience [sic] about a party that supports that... Hillary Clinton wants to repeal the longstanding provision in the law that says we wouldn't use taxpayer dollars to fund abortion.
The biggest issue? There's no such thing as a partial birth abortion. The procedure that Pence appears to be referencing is now called a late-term abortion, which is generally only used as a last resort in emergency situations. Though partial birth abortion did once exist, it has since been banned since 2003.
The National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) first coined the term in 1995, when the procedure was just gaining public attention. It had been referred to medically as intact dilation and extraction and generally occurred after 16 weeks. Much has changed in the two decades since NRLC had rallied against it, including the 2003 passage of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. The bill was then upheld in a Supreme Court ruling four years later. Clinton was against the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act while serving as a New York senator as it relates to being used for the sake of a mother's health. She's not rallying against the law's existence and has never vowed to overturn it.
During an appearance on Fox News last March, Clinton stated that the only way she could support such drastic measures as late-term abortions was if the procedure was deemed life-saving for the mother. "I have been on record in favor of a late pregnancy regulation that would have exceptions for the life and health of the mother," Clinton said. "I object to the recent effort in Congress to pass a law saying after 20 weeks, you know, no such exceptions, because although these are rare, they sometimes arise in the most complex, difficult medical situation."
Regarding Pence's claim that Clinton wants to use taxpayer dollars to explicitly fund abortions, Clinton has been explicit in her support of Planned Parenthood, which many pro-life politicians misconstrue as an organization that primarily carries out abortions. Data from Planned Parenthood refutes that claim. Just three percent of the organization's services are for abortions.
If Pence is referring to the Hyde Amendment, however, he's absolutely correct. The budget rider, which was first enacted in 1977, essentially limits low income women from having full access to abortion services. Medicaid can only sign off on an abortion if it is used to protect the life of the mother or due to conception via rape and/or incest. The Hyde Amendment has extended to the Affordable Care Act and is something Clinton has been actively campaigning against. She has repeatedly stated that she considers reproductive rights to be "fundamental human rights" and that access to abortion, no matter your income level, is no exception.