Pence-founded group posts video baselessly linking abortion to cancer

As vice president, Pence embraced anti-abortion movement

John Bowden
Washington DC
Wednesday 30 August 2023 22:42
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All the times Donald Trump was mentioned by the GOP candidates

A group linked to Mike Pence has linked abortion care to cancer, and compared cancer specialists to Nazis.

Mr Pence’s presidential campaign has promised to be a vessel for the pro-life movement to build on the gains it saw last year — namely, the end of Roe vs Wade.

And the statements and policies advocated for by an organisation he founded after leaving the White House provide a revealing look into just what it would mean to have a real cheerleader of the anti-abortion cause behind the Resolute Desk.

The end of federal abortion protections nationwide in 2022 had a multifaceted effect in US politics. First, it galvanised Democrats and their voters; candidates who ran on the promise of protecting those rights specifically at the state level outperformed their peers and even, in many cases, President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020.

Secondly, it set off a wave of so-called “trigger laws” around the country. Trigger laws refer to pieces of legislation passed by state governments which are on their face unconstitutional or otherwise overruled by federal statues, but are based on faith in the idea that the Supreme Court or Congress will act in some way, allowing them to go into effect.

The fall of Roe vs Wade last year caused many of those “trigger” abortion bans to snap into place around the country. States like Michigan and Arizona suddenly became battlegrounds over the issue when those laws went back into effect, often causing massive disruptions and confusion in places where the practice’s legality was suddenly up for hot debate. That phenomenon was followed by the inevitable wave of horror stories — one particularly disgusting example that left conservatives stammering and unable to offer solutions erupted in Ohio, where a 10-year-old girl was forced to flee the state and seek abortion care across state lines after being the victim of rape.

And now, a Rolling Stone investigation into Mr Pence’s Advancing American Freedom depicts what kind of policies would be advanced by the White House should the ex-vice president or another anti-abortion crusader like Sen Tim Scott or Florida’s Ron DeSantis win the GOP nomination.

A video posted by the group on 10 August, first highlighted by the magazine, discusses a pseudoscientific view widely held by the anti-abortion right linking the medical practice to breast cancer diagnoses. The evidence for such theories is not accepted by major medical institutions or actual medical experts.

The speaker in the video, Angela Lanfranchi of Anglicans for Life, doesn’t stop there, however. She goes on in the video to smear the National Cancer Institute, one of the world’s leading authorities on cancers and the development of cures and treatments, as Nazi-esque. Describing a gathering of experts convened by the NCI to study the abortion/cancer claims, Ms Lanfranchi likened the group to “the Nazi government [working] to discredit ‘Jewish science.’”

The Independent has reached out to the Pence campaign for comment.

The remark, while ugly, is only the latest example of a growing backlash against any kind of medical or scientific authority by the American right, as evidenced by the continued rage against ex-NIH chief Dr Anthony Fauci and the right-wing fixation with Robert F Kennedy Jr, a vaccine sceptic who has vowed to use the power of the federal government to demand medical journals be influenced or changed to reflect pseudoscientific claims.

Mr Pence continues to campaign for the Republican 2024 presidential nomination, and has largely remained in the single digits behind frontrunner Donald Trump and othes like Mr DeSantis.

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