News From Terre Haute, Indiana

May 9, 2012

Protesters target Pence’s pro-life views

GOP gubernatorial hopeful makes stop in Terre Haute

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana gubernatorial candidate Mike Pence made a stop in Terre Haute on Primary Election day, when he encountered supporters as well as a group of demonstrators.

Pence, who was unopposed in Tuesday’s GOP primary, met “friends and supporters” at the Grand Traverse Pie Company on Cherry Street early Tuesday afternoon. While he was inside, six demonstrators supporting Planned Parenthood stood on a public sidewalk outside holding signs.

“We’re here today to let Mike Pence know that women are watching and we’re coming to the polls in November,” said Katie Blair, director of activism for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Indiana, the political arm of Planned Parenthood in the state.

Pence, who is currently serving in Congress, has sponsored legislation that would halt federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

As he left the Pie Company, Pence said he believes Hoosiers respect “my conservative values, including my pro-life views.” He also said voters in Indiana are currently more concerned about jobs and schools than any other topics.

“It’s all about jobs,” Pence said. “They see on television that a recovery has started, but they don’t feel it.”

In February 2011, Pence, who was first elected to Congress in 2000, introduced legislation that would block all federal funding to Planned Parenthood. In earlier congressional sessions, Pence introduced legislation to block funding to any entity that provides abortion services.

“I don’t think we are going to change his mind,” Blair said standing about 100 feet from the Pie Company. “But we’re all going to come out to the polls. Women are 51 percent of the population, so we have the ability to swing the vote.”

John Gregg, former speaker of the Indiana House, is the Democrat poised to face Pence in the November election. Gregg is in favor of “family planning,” Blair said, meaning “he would not restrict a woman’s access to health care.”

Gregg, who calls himself a pro-life Democrat, has been critical of efforts to block all funding for Planned Parenthood, stating the organization provides much-needed health care services other than abortions for women.

The six women demonstrating in Terre Haute had also been at a Pence campaign stop in Parke County earlier in the day, they said. Some of the women were with Planned Parenthood and some were “volunteers from around the state,” including two from Terre Haute, they said.

Both Gregg and Pence were planning to await election returns Tuesday evening in Indianapolis, fitting since each hopes to land the best office in the capital city.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at (812) 231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@tribstar.com.