As his fellow 2024 presidential candidates shy away from abortion, former Vice President Mike Pence is instead embracing the issue—and calling for the 2024 field to support a national 15-week abortion ban.
The former vice president spoke out at the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference in Washington, D.C., an evangelical conference where candidates gathered on Friday.
“The cause of life is the calling of our time, and we must not rest and must not relent until we restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law in every state,” Pence said. “Every Republican candidate for president should support a ban on abortion before 15 weeks as a minimum nationwide standard.”
Pence’s remarks mirror the messaging of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. In April, SBA President Marjorie Dannenfelser promised: “We will oppose any presidential candidate who refuses to embrace at a minimum a 15-week national standard to stop painful late-term abortions while allowing states to enact further protections.”
That statement came as a response to a Trump spokesman telling The Washington Post that former President Donald Trump “believes that the Supreme Court, led by the three Justices which he supported, got it right when they ruled this [abortion] an issue that should be decided at the State level.”
Earlier this year, Pence told The Daily Signal that pro-life Americans are looking for “leaders who will stand without apology for the right to life,” emphasizing: “Their loyalty is to the cause of life. Not to any particular candidate. And I think that’s as it should be.”
At 15 weeks, an unborn baby can feel pain. When Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham proposed a national 15-week ban in September, the pro-life movement was not entirely on board with the measure, since many wished for a national ban that protected babies with a heartbeat.
Regardless, it may prove to be a tough litmus test for the 2024 field. Many of the candidates have not defined what type of national ban they would support.
Trump, for example, has not specified what type of national ban he would support, though he has promised to “negotiate so people are happy.”
In Florida, candidate Ron DeSantis signed such a heartbeat bill earlier this year. Trump has suggested that his rival’s law is too harsh: “If you look at what DeSantis did, a lot of people don’t even know if he knew what he was doing. But he signed six weeks, and many people within the pro-life movement feel that that was too harsh.”
“Protecting an unborn child when there’s a detectable heartbeat is something that probably 99% of pro-lifers support,” DeSantis said in response. “I signed the bill. I was proud to do it. He won’t answer whether he would sign it or not.”
Asked in early June if she supported a heartbeat bill, candidate Nikki Haley, the former governor of South Carolina and former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, would not say whether she would sign such a bill, pointing instead to President Joe Biden’s administration’s extreme positions on abortion.
“I will answer that when you ask Kamala and Biden if they would agree to 37 weeks, 38 weeks, 39 weeks,” she responded, referring to the president and Vice President Kamala Harris. “Then I’ll answer your question.”
“No one asked them that!” she emphasized. “No one asked them how late they are willing to go. What I’m saying is, why go and put the American people through that. Why do that? Why not talk about what’s the truth?”
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