Planned Parenthood flooded with donations in Mike Pence's name after Donald Trump says abortion could be restricted
Mike Pence, the deeply conservative vice president-elect, has had his postbox filled with letters thanking him for "his donation" to Planned Parenthood - following a social media campaign to donate to the charity in his name.
Mr Pence is currently governor of Indiana – a state which has passed some of the most restrictive abortion legislation in the country. Over 60 per cent of Indiana women now live in a county without an abortion clinic, as 93 per cent of Indiana counties have no facility. By comparison, only five per cent of California women live in a county without a clinic.
As a gesture of protest, anonymous donations have been made to Planned Parenthood in his name, with the automatically-generated notes thanking him for his support being sent to his office in Indianapolis.
Planned Parenthood hasn't commented in detail on the post-election trend of donating in Mr Pence's honour, but said on social media they had been "blown away by the support" and acknowledged that many people are donating in both Mr Pence's and Hillary Clinton's names.
His running mate Donald Trump campaigned for the presidency on a “pro life” stance, and said that he will appoint a judge to the Supreme Court who is against abortion.
Gretchen Borchelt, vice president for reproductive rights and health at the National Women’s Law Center, said Mr Pence was a driving force behind Mr Trump’s anti-abortion stance.
“He’s absolutely the one pushing this,” she told The Telegraph. “He was a leader in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, and has enacted some incredibly restrictive legislation in Indiana.
“This has always been a priority for him – and now he has more power.”
The judge appointed by the Trump administration could attempt to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision that guaranteed a woman’s right to have an abortion.
Mr Trump said in his first television interview, on Sunday night, that, if the federal law is revoked, “it will go back to the states” to make their own rules.
When it was pointed out that some states would then ban abortion entirely, he replied: “well, they’ll perhaps have to go to another state.”
Planned Parenthood responded that it would campaign vigorously against his proposal, tweeting: "Not on our watch."
Ms Borchelt said that Mr Trump could indeed oversee the repeal of Roe v Wade if another Supreme Court judge retires, and he replaces the judge with a pro-life advocate. The result would be a series of states outlawing abortion entirely.
But, she said, they would face fierce resistance.
“Seven out of ten Americans think that abortion should be legal, so if Mississippi or Louisiana or Texas tries to ban abortion entirely, there would be a huge outcry,” she said.
“People would be shocked and appalled and terrified. And we are going to fight against that.
“It would be a throwback to a dangerous era.”
The US already has vast swathes of its country where abortion is made all but inaccessible.
In 1992, the Court upheld the basic right to abortion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but that ruling also expanded the ability of the states to enact restrictions on women's access to abortion – insisting that parents of minors give consent, allowing health insurance companies to refuse to pay, and imposing restrictions on clinics such as the width of corridors and size of rooms.
Ms Borchelt said she fears that states will be emboldened by the president-elect’s position, and now try new ways to curtail access to abortion.
“It’s going to be interesting to see what they think of next,” she said.
Missouri and Mississippi have only one clinic in the state. In Louisiana there are four; in Arkansas three. In Texas, the number of clinics has fallen from 41 to 19 in the last three years.
Over half of women in the Midwest live in counties without an abortion clinic, and 49 per cent of women living in the South, according to the most recent study by the Guttmacher Institute, which advocates for reproductive rights.
Abortion clinics are so few and far between in the area between Florida and New Mexico, north into the Midwest, that the region is already described as an “abortion desert,” and women are increasingly travelling across state lines to avoid long waits for appointments and escape the legal barriers in their home states.
The National Abortion Federation hotline referred 209 Texas patients to New Mexico last year, compared with 21 in 2013, said Vicki Saporta, the group’s president and chief executive. The number of Texas patients at one Albuquerque clinic alone more than tripled, jumping from 19 to 67 last year, she said
Three in ten American women will have had an abortion by the time she reaches age 45; almost 70 per cent of them are classed as “economically disadvantaged” and 61 per cent already have at least one child.