Former Vice President Mike Pence is working to stand out against other 2024 candidates on the issue of abortion, highlighting his pro-life policies while other candidates have sometimes shied away from the topic.
Pence is set to participate in a townhall interview Saturday with Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of anti-abortion advocacy group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America. The interview will be part of a “Celebration of Life” event to commemorates the one-year anniversary of the Dobbs decision, which overturned Roe v. Wade.
The former VP, a host of 2024 GOP candidates, set to speak at the Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Road to Majority Conference, which began Thursday in Washington, D.C.. But of the group of presidential hopefuls speaking at the conference — which includes former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley — Pence will be the only one to address pro-life students from the group Students for Life on the National Mall, Politico reports. (RELATED: ‘I Do Believe In The Dobbs Decision’: GOP Gov Reveals Abortion Stance Ahead Of Likely Presidential Bid)
“For me, for our campaign, we’re going to stand where we’ve always stood, and that is stand without apology for the right to life,” Pence told the outlet
The GOP faces a choice, as he put it, of “whether or not we’re going to continue to be a party grounded in the conservative principles that have won not only the White House, but won majorities over the last 50 years again and again — or whether our party is going to shy away from those core traditional principles.”
The former VP also took shots at Trump, noting that “where candidates were focused on the past — focused on relitigating the past — we did not fare well.”
“In my announcement speech, I articulated my concern that my former running mate and other candidates in the field are backing away from an unwavering commitment to the right to life,” Pence told Politico. “It’s not consistent with the kind of principled leadership that I believe Republicans are looking for in the cause of life.”
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) June 23, 2023
The DeSantis campaign directed the Caller to statements the governor made during the Faith and Freedom conference, where he touted his record opposing abortion and said signing a six-week abortion ban was, “the right thing to do.” In other comments provided to the Caller, DeSantis brought up his record on abortion during an event in North August, South Carolina.
“[W]e were able to enact a Heartbeat Bill to protect when there is a detectable heartbeat. I know South Carolina has recently done similar, and I applaud them for doing that,” DeSantis said. “I think it’ll make a difference. I think it’s humane. I think it will protect life. I think that the progress right now is being made, really from the bottom up.”
After the 2022 midterms, Trump blamed Republican losses on pro-lifers who believe in “No Exceptions.” In response, anti-abortion activists blasted the former president. “If you do not have a strong pro-life stance, you are not a true conservative,” Savanna Deretich, government affairs coordinator at Students for Life of America, told the Daily Caller in January.
In April, Trump spokesperson Steven Cheung told the Washington Post that Trump did not support a federal ban on abortion, prompting another wave of backlash. Pro-life groups and activists hit back, saying that, “Any candidate who does not vocally support a federal ban to stop the abortion genocide has not earned the support of the pro-life movement,” Terrisa Bukovinac, founder and executive director of Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), told the Caller at the time.
A Trump spokesperson responded to the criticism, telling the Caller that conservatives should focus “on saving lives and avoiding the Radical Left’s traps, not on dividing the pro-life community,” adding that the “Radical Left, which includes late-term abortion advocates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, is the only beneficiary when this happens.”
Trump has criticized DeSantis for signing a six-week abortion ban into law in Florida, arguing that even pro-lifers believe it to be “too harsh.” DeSantis has disputed Trump’s claims, saying that “[p]rotecting an unborn child when there’s a detectable heartbeat is something that almost, probably 99% of pro-lifers support.”
In a statement to the Caller on Friday, the Trump campaign defended Trump’s pro-life record and criticized President Joe Biden’s an increasingly radical position on abortion.
“President Trump’s unmatched record speaks for itself—nominating pro-life federal judges and Supreme Court justices that overturned Roe v. Wade, ending taxpayer funded abortions, reinstated the Mexico City Policy that protects the life of the unborn abroad, and many other actions that championed the life of the unborn. There has been no bigger advocate for the movement than President Trump,” a Trump spokesperson told the Caller.
“Contrast that with Joe Biden’s abhorrent record of abortion on demand and using American tax dollars to fund the killing of the most vulnerable, it is clear we need President Trump back in the White House,” the spokesperson added.