Last night’s debate finally gave candidates a chance to address a critical question in this election: How would they treat women who want to access safe, legal abortion? Pence — who has made a name for himself doing all he can to end women’s access to basic reproductive health care, and whose running mate infamously said women should be punished for having an abortion — made his answer clear: the Trump-Pence ticket doesn’t trust women.

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TIM KAINE: “Governor, why don't you trust women to make this choice for themselves? We can encourage people to support life, of course we can, but why don't you trust women. Why doesn't Donald Trump trust women to make this choice for themselves? That's what we ought to be doing in public life. Living our lives of faith or motivation with enthusiasm and excitement, convincing each other, dialoguing with each other about important moral issues of the day. But on fundamental questions of morality, we should let women make their own decisions.”

The Reviews Are In — Kaine Exposed How Neither Trump Nor Pence #TrustWomen

[Pence] said their GOP presidential ticket “would never support legislation that would punish women who made the heartbreaking choice.”

His record suggests otherwise. As a congressman, Pence once co-sponsored a bill that would force women to undergo an ultrasound before an abortion and hear a detailed description of the fetus, regardless of whether the procedure is medically necessary. As governor, he signed a bill that would require doctors to offer women the “remains” of the fetus after an abortion, which serves no apparent purpose other than to humiliate them.

In a campaign where Donald Trump has repeatedly demeaned and objectified women, Kaine’s assertion reinforced the narrative of Trump’s lack of respect for women.

“Hillary and I are both people out of religious backgrounds. Her Methodist Church experience was really formative for her as a public person. But we both really feel like you should live fully and with enthusiasm the commands of your faith. But it is not the role of the public servant to mandate that for everybody else. So let’s talk about abortion and choice. Let’s talk about that.

We support Roe versus Wade. We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience, their own support of partner, their own minister. But then make their own decision about pregnancy. That’s something we trust American women to do that.”

Kaine also criticized Republican nominee Donald Trump for saying that there should be“some form of punishment” for women who have abortions if the procedure is outlawed. Trump later walked those comments back.

But given that women have actually been jailed in America for trying to self-induce an abortion — notably Purvi Patel, who was initially sentenced to 20 years in prison last year in Pence’s own state of Indiana before her conviction was overturned and her sentence reduced — it’s hard to see how outlawing abortion would result in less punishment for women who seek it.

If Trump and Pence got their way, Roe v. Wade could indeed be in the “ash heap of history,” as Pence put it.

And if that happened — whether abortion were outlawed or more heavily criminalized in America — there’s no denying that women would indeed face criminal punishment, regardless of what lawmakers intended.

Reproductive rights finally had its moment in the final ten minutes of the first and only vice presidential debate between Virginia’s Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana’s Republican Gov. Mike Pence. [...]

Pence has signed the most extreme anti-abortion laws in the country and has defunded Planned Parenthood in his state. If Trump is elected president, Pence has said that "We’ll see Roe v. Wade consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs."

Though Pence denied Tuesday evening that a Trump administration would support punishment for women who get abortions, Trump has indeed said he thinks there should be "some form of punishment" for such women. Pressed on why Trump would say that, Pence said, "Well look, he's not a polished politician" like Clinton.