Vox published a story on Monday that, well, if you didn’t know who and what Mike Pence was, you’d be surprised. But if you did know something about Pence’s extreme religious conservatism, you wouldn’t be surprised. Here is the opening of the Vox story:
It’s no secret that Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Donald Trump’s running mate, opposes abortion rights. Pence basically invented the Republican Party’s war on Planned Parenthood while he was in Congress. He wants Roe v. Wade to be overturned. He signed every anti-abortion bill that crossed his desk as governor of Indiana.
But Pence signed one anti-abortion bill in March of this year that was so extreme, even some pro-life Republicans opposed it. And it was eventually blocked from going into effect by a federal judge for violating women’s right to choose.
The law did something truly bizarre. It would have basically forced women to seek funerary services for a fetus — whether she’d had an abortion or a miscarriage, and no matter how far along the pregnancy was.
Mandatory funerals for fetuses. Mandatory funerals even for fetuses lost to miscarriages. Keep in mind that Pence signed that horrendous bill—the logic of which led to absurdities like menstrual monitoring—in March. In March of, uh, 2016. Before Trump picked him.
As Vox pointed out, the law Pence signed “would have required all fetal tissue to be cremated or buried.” All of it:
The wording of the burial provision meant that technically, even if a woman had a miscarriage at eight weeks of pregnancy at home, she would have to keep the blood and tissue, take it to a hospital or clinic, and have it buried or cremated by a funeral home.
I’ve written about abortion several times over the years, especially noting that many pregnancies are terminated by “God,” since miscarriages are common in nature. Vox says:
[S]ince about half of miscarriages happen shortly after a fertilized egg is implanted, and occur at roughly the same time a woman would expect her period, many women could be having a miscarriage and not even know it — and thus, technically be violating the law if they didn’t cremate or bury the resulting tissue.
As a protest against the new law’s extreme requirements, women who opposed the law started a Facebook group called “Periods for Pence.” Members of the group started calling Pence’s office in droves to tell him about their periods in graphic detail.
“Any period could potentially be a miscarriage,” wrote the anonymous founder of Periods for Pence in an introductory post. “I would certainly hate for any of my fellow Hoosier women to be at risk of penalty” if they don’t properly dispose of or report a potential miscarriage.
The idea of women reporting their periods as a legal precaution sounds absurd and Orwellian. But it’s also what happens when you take a law as bizarre and medically incoherent as Indiana’s to its logical conclusion.
It’s also what happens when religious zealots—a majority of them men—use extremist theology to control women’s reproductive choices. In this case, they claimed they were protecting “fetuses against discrimination based on disability”—which would have prohibited a woman from choosing to terminate a pregnancy involving a fetus with a serious genetic disorder. But like all fundamentalist zealots, what Pence and the Republicans in the Indiana legislature were really doing was forcing women in Indiana to live under the thumb of an extremist religious doctrine, of a wild-eyed religion-based morality, that, if Americans give Pence a chance, he will do his best to force on women everywhere in America.
Let me note here that the federal judge in Indiana who, for now, stopped this legislative nightmare is Tanya Walton Pratt. And let me further note that she was appointed by Barack Obama. And let me now state the obvious: if we don’t stop them, a Trump-Pence administration will bring us judges who will not do what Judge Pratt did. They will approve of it.
We hear a lot of talk, from people like Mike Pence, about “radical Islam” and “sharia law.” No doubt you will hear such talk coming from him tonight during the vice presidential debate. But know that it will be coming from a Republican who, just six months ago, attempted to impose on women in his state a radical form of Christianity, the Christian expression of sharia law. And like his fundamentalist Muslim brethren overseas, Pence is not shy about it. He admits it. He’s proud of it. And he wants to spread it and other manifestations of Christian sharia from sea to shining sea.
God help us if he gets his wish.