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Abortion 'Rights of tomorrow’s women continue to be abridged by yesterday’s men'

America’s new VP, Mike Pence, embodies a worrying strand of male influence within the reproductive rights debate, writes Ronan Mullen.

EVEN DONALD TRUMP’S most ardent supporters would be at pains to describe his career swap as a seamless one.

After all, while this month’s victory saw him become the sixth US President to attain the role as their first public office, that number tells only half the story. Of those who preceded him on that score, three had esteemed military résumés, and the other two were long-time cabinet secretaries.

Trump’s fortune can’t buy that kind of experience

And yet, rather than a hill to die on, it was upon that very inexperience that the 70-year-old built his church. Unsullied by the careerism of party politics, his followers have lauded his aptitude to speak freely without fear of reproach.

Unfiltered frankness is undoubtedly an admirable character trait, but the fact that it could just as easily be boasted by a puckish toddler is hardly a ringing endorsement of one’s presidential credentials.

Then again, it would be remiss to suggest that Trump’s was the first campaign to target heart over head.

Cults of personality 

One need look no further than the tidal wave which swept Barack Obama into office for confirmation of that. But whereas Obama’s candidacy may have appeared at least superficially populist, it was built on unwavering ideals.

Like Kennedy and Reagan before him, he used charisma to cause change. Publicity was a means to an end.

For Donald Trump, publicity is the end

His success has centered on one emptily bombastic soundbite after another, his bumper-sticker policies catering tragically well to the Snapchat attention span of modern media.

Trump’s very lack of conservatism belied his status as this year’s Republican candidate, with even his own party balking at his liberal positions on matters such as gun control. And yet, if concerns about the President-elect can best be boiled down to fear of the unknown, those swirling around his closest ally amount to quite the opposite.

Mike Pence is the GOP’s answer to Ronseal, after all, his steadfastness a tangible yin to Trump’s yang. If nothing else, that courage of conviction promises to keep Trump’s increasingly erratic train on the track, but at what cost?

Pence is none the richer

Pence Vice President-elect Mike Pence. Darron Cummings Darron Cummings

On the face of it, Pence’s primitive views concerning climate change and same-sex marriage appear to tally more readily with the Westboro Baptist Church than much of the US electorate. Given the current climate on this side of the Atlantic, however, it’s his regressive stance on abortion which will likely have caught the Irish eye.

Pence has been among the brashest opponents to America’s regulation of the issue, after all, dubbing the Roe vs Wade ruling “the Supreme Court’s worst since Dred Scott.” During his time as Governor of Indiana, he endeavoured to redress that perceived imbalance, invoking some of America’s most restrictive counter-legislation.

Just 7% of Indiana counties have been left with direct access to an abortion clinic following his tenure in the Midwest, compared to a rate of 95% in states such as California.

‘I’m pro-life’

Logistics surrounding the medical procedure itself were also stymied under his watch. Pence became the first governor to place a blanket-ban on abortions which cited a foetus’ race, sex or disability.

“I’m pro-life and don’t apologise for it,” affirmed the would-be VP on the campaign trail. “I signed that legislation with a prayer that God would continue to bless these precious children, mothers and families. In time, we’ll see Roe v Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.”

That Pence’s pro-life politicking is rooted in his Christianity is hardly a foreign concept to those with an Irish sensibility. A simple Google search of my own namesake should serve as proof enough of that that.

Yesterday’s men decide women’s futures

Disconcerting though it may be, the narrative of 2016 remains heavily shaped by tenets from a bygone age and the rights of tomorrow’s women continue to be abridged by the whims of yesterday’s men.

Even in a society where a White House without a Y chromosome remains elusive, calls for women to be the protagonists in the discourse surrounding their own human rights hardly seem unreasonable.

America’s decision to plump for a Pence-Trump ticket has gone some way to ensuring those calls fall on deaf ears for some time yet. It is incumbent on the rest of the world to shout a little louder.

Ronan Mullen has a Masters in Journalism. He is currently working as a freelance writer.

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