Medical Examiner

Let’s Revisit Coronavirus Czar Mike Pence’s History on Public Health Initiatives

Vice President Mike Pence
Mike Pence, he is in charge. ERIC BARADAT/Getty Images

Mike Pence is now in charge of the United States’ response to coronavirus, Donald Trump announced at a press conference Wednesday night. Mike Pence’s qualifications, per Trump, include that he is “terrific in many ways,” “very good on health care,” and “really very expert at the field.” OK! Here are a few fast facts about Mike Pence and public health:

• When he was governor of Indiana, Mike Pence signed anti-abortion bills at a rate of two per year.

• Mike Pence has argued that sending kids to daycare stunts their emotional development, specifically their affection for their mothers.

• Mike Pence sure does not like Planned Parenthood, a health care provider.

• Mike Pence had to be told by an ER doctor at a restaurant about his own administration’s proposed cuts to Medicare.

• Mike Pence hasn’t repealed Obamacare, but not for lack of trying!

• It sure sounds like Mike Pence advocated for conversion therapy when he ran for congress in 2000. The specific language from his campaign website: federal funding for HIV patients “should be directed toward those institutions which provide assistance to those seeking to change their sexual behavior.”

• He did not mean condoms. “Frankly, condoms are a very, very poor protection against sexually transmitted diseases,” said Mike Pence in 2002.

Researchers suggest that Mike Pence could have averted dozens of HIV infections in Indiana if he had supported basic public health measures when he took office as governor in 2013. At the very least, he could have not waited months to declare a state of emergency when it was clear there was a full-on outbreak. But he did.

• Mike Pence is not a doctor.

• Mike Pence is also not a scientist.

• “Smoking doesn’t kill.” ‑Mike Pence