NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Thousands of people have made donations to Planned Parenthood in the name of Vice President-elect Mike Pence, an abortion opponent, so that he will receive official acknowledgements from the women’s health care provider, the group said on Tuesday.
The idea of making donations in Pence’s name arose and spread on social media as a protest after Republican Donald Trump won his bid for the U.S. presidency in a surprise victory last week.
Both Trump and Pence, his running mate, have pledged to curtail women’s rights to abortion. Trump said the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion should be overturned and that he would appoint an anti-abortion justice to the nation’s highest court.
Trump also said women who had abortions should be punished, but later said it was doctors who perform abortions who should be punished.
Pence, whose home state of Indiana has restrictive laws regulating access to abortion, has pushed for Congress to defund the nonprofit Planned Parenthood, which performs some abortions.
A number of celebrities have publicized the donation campaign in Pence’s name with posts on social media, including Emmy Award-winning comedian Amy Schumer and actresses Ashley Hinshaw, Jaime Perry, and Amber Tamblyn.
They said their donations to Planned Parenthood included the address of Pence’s office in Indiana so it would get the acknowledgement that Planned Parenthood mails to donors.
At least 20,000 people who have donated money since the U.S. election on Nov. 8 named Pence as donor, out of 160,000 people overall, a Planned Parenthood spokesman told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Planned Parenthood has reported a surge in donations and demand for long-acting contraceptives since Trump’s election.
Pence signed a law this year that would have banned abortions due to genetic abnormality, criminalized collection of fetal tissue for research, required fetal tissue be buried or cremated, and made women look at their fetal ultrasounds before getting an abortion.
A federal judge blocked the law in June.
Pence’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
Planned Parenthood, which has more than 650 health centers nationwide, relies on public funding for about 40 percent of its funding. Private donations comprise about one quarter of its revenue, it said in its 2016 annual report.
(Reporting by Sebastien Malo, Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst)
IMAGE: Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence holds a joint news conference with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) (not pictured) following a House Republican party conference meeting in Washington, U.S. September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst