VP Mike Pence at Ave Maria University: ‘Life Is Winning in America’

EWTN News Nightly’s Lauren Ashburn interviewed Vice President Mike Pence during his visit March 28 to the Florida campus.

(photo: YouTube/EWTN)

Vice President Mike Pence toured Ave Maria University Thursday and visited the campus’ Mother Teresa Museum. EWTN News Nightly’s Lauren Ashburn interviewed him at Ave Maria.

Following is a transcript of the interview.


Mr. Vice President, thank you for joining us.

You bet, Lauren. Good to see you.


You just gave a speech about religious freedom, health care, a variety of topics important to the administration, yet freedom of religion is very important to you. The last time we talked, your wife was under attack for going to teach art at a Christian school. How else has this affected your life?

Well, it hasn’t affected our lives much at all; as I said to you before, we’re used to criticism. But to be able to stand here at Ave Maria University, to be able to see all these bright, shining young faces, I just wanted them to know that while it’s become fashionable in recent days for media elites and Hollywood liberals to be critical of people with religious faith, that we stand with them and that the American people stand in solidarity for the freedom of religious expression of every American, and we cherish Christian education.

This is a remarkable university — to think of this place in just 10 short years and the impact that they’re having, not just in laying a foundation of education for these children, but, Lauren, to learn of how these young people are serving in their community, literally serving around the world, it’s been truly inspiring to be here.


And not just in America are you fighting for religious freedom. You mentioned recently that Secretary Mike Pompeo set, and he and Ambassador Brownback have continued, to call out China as the worst violators of human rights in the world. It’s cracking down on ethnic minorities, Catholics, the weaker Muslims, and I’m wondering: Will we see conditions on human indignities included in trade talks?

Well, let me just say that it is with a heavy heart that we reflect that more than 80% of the world’s population live in societies where there is religious repression or restriction on religious liberty, and the United States and this administration has stood strong.

Whether it be in this hemisphere, in Nicaragua, where we’ve literally seen gangs attack Catholic churches and Catholic priests; and whether we see the brutality of ISIS — that our armed forces and our allies have recently taken back every inch of territory the ISIS caliphate had once controlled; or whether it’s in the world’s most populous nation of China, the United States will always call out nations around the world to recognize and to respect the religious beliefs of their citizens.

And with regard to China, we’re engaged in discussions about resetting our trading relationship; not just the imbalance, Lauren, but our negotiations are focused on structural issues like the theft of intellectual property, of forced technology transfers, all the things that have impacted our trading relationship and created such an imbalance for American workers and American businesses.

We’re hopeful that those discussions will go forward and be productive with China. They’re going on literally as we speak. But rest assured, as our relationship with China continues to change and to grow, we’re going to speak out and we’re going to stand up for the rights of religious minorities in China and everywhere around the world.


You spoke about abortion in your speech today. On Tuesday, Secretary Mike Pompeo announced the expansion of the Mexico City Policy, and yesterday he was on Capitol Hill talking about that expansion when Rep. Lois Frankel, a Democrat from right here in Florida, called the Trump administration “abortion-obsessed.” What’s your response to that?

This is an administration that’s deeply committed to the sanctity of human life and to upholding those policies in not only our domestic policies but also in foreign policy and in foreign aid. And what the secretary of state announced this week, at the president’s direction, was that [regarding] the Mexico City Policy, which prevents any taxpayer dollars from going to organizations that promote abortion around the world, we’re now making sure that organizations can’t transfer those dollars to organizations that utilize abortion as a means of birth control.

This is keeping faith with a policy that Ronald Reagan established, and I couldn’t be more proud to serve alongside the most pro-life president in American history. Whether it be reinstituting the Mexico City Policy in the early days of this administration, whether it be standing for conscience protections of institutions like Ave Maria University, this administration, President Donald Trump and I, will always stand for life.


The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act would outlaw and penalize infanticide. We have seen, in New York, you can now have an abortion there right up until the moment of birth. Pro-lifers are so disheartened by this. States are pushing back, but what is the administration going to do to counter those kind of state laws?

Well, first let me just say that the fact that you see states like Virginia and New York taking up legislation that allows for late-term abortion, when you see that the governor of Virginia actually support infanticide, and then to see Democrats in the Senate vote against a bill that protects children that are born alive, it just suggests to you, I think, the desperation of the left in this country.

The truth is — and I saw it in the faces of these children at this school today — more and more Americans are embracing the sanctity of life. Life is winning in America, and particularly among younger Americans who are recognizing the sanctity of life.

And with President Trump’s appointment of strict constructionists to our federal courts at every level, we sense that the left is now reaching. They’re bringing that “abortion-on-demand” agenda to the state levels, and they’re really revealing that they are the party of “abortion-on-demand,” and even the party of infanticide. And our party, under President Trump, will always stand for the sanctity of life, and we’ll stand with the unborn.


Under the Affordable Care Act, abortion was made a lot more readily available to people. Now, President Trump says the GOP is going to be the party of health care. So are there elements of the Affordable Care Act that you would preserve, like pre-existing conditions or health coverage of adult children?

Lauren, there are elements of “Obamacare,” like protecting pre-existing condition, allowing adult children to remain on their parents’ health insurance, that Republicans have long supported and the president and I strongly support.

But look, “Obamacare” has failed. We all remember the broken promises of Obamacare: “If you like your doctor, you can keep it. If you like your insurance, you can keep it.” They said that health-insurance premiums would go down; they’ve actually gone up, dramatically — more than 100% in some places around the country.

What President Trump announced this week is that we are going to be the party of health care, while the Democrats have made it clear where they’re headed. It’s even more government takeover of health care. Their “Medicare for All” proposal is nothing short of socialized medicine, single-payer health care that would take the most precious decisions, in our lives and the lives of our families, and put them in the hands of bureaucrats with scarce federal resources.

President Trump and I believe that the time has come for us to reject socialized medicine, reject their government takeover of health care, and we’re working with members of Congress as we speak to lay out a plan for health-care reform that’s built in the doctor-patient relationship, that’s built on the principles of freedom that have already created the greatest health-care system the world has ever known.


When will we see the plan?

Well, [we’re] working on it as we speak with members of Congress. Even this week, we’ve begun discussions, and I know those are underway in the House and in the Senate. But look, the American people have a choice to make in this coming election.

Our administration has already supported reforms like association health plans. They’ve created more health-insurance choices for Americans and for small businesses. Democrats want Medicare for all. They want government-run health care along the socialist model of Canada and other European countries. We’re going to be presenting, to the American people, in the course of this election, a health-care plan that’s built on freedom that will lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government.


Thank you so much, Mr. Vice President, for joining us at the Mother Teresa Museum here. I know you quote her often. Thank you.

I do. Such an inspiration, and it’s great to see you here, Lauren.

Aaron Baer, President of Center for Christan Virtue, listens to speakers at a pro-life canvasing meeting at Columbus Christian Center in Columbus, Ohio, on Nov. 4.

Pro-Life Political Setbacks and a Look at Christians in the Middle East (Nov. 11)

The pro-life movement experienced a few setbacks this week in three states’ elections, including in Ohio, where voters decisively approved a ballot referendum that expands abortion access and adds a new right to abortion to the state constitution. We talk to EWTN’s Prudence Robertson about Nov. 7 election results, the latest GOP debate and the formidable challenges the pro-life movement faces ahead. Then we turn to a very different kind of crisis — the one faced by Christians in the Middle East. We talk to Lebanese journalist Elias Turk from EWTN News’ Arabic language news agency ACI Mena about the impact of the Israel-Hamas war on the Christian community in the region.