The biggest lie Mike Pence told at the vice presidential debate is easily proven wrong

Tuesday night’s vice presidential debate was barely more entertaining than staring at a blank white wall in silence for 90 minutes. That is, until the topic of abortion came up. Because the two old white dudes have some feelings about what women should or shouldn’t be able to do with their uteruses. Which brings us to the biggest lie Mike Pence told at the vice presidential debate.

Of course, one could argue that most things Pence says about women aren’t entirely truthful, but one thing he said was just blatantly and irrefutably wrong. When his opponent, Tim Kaine, said the Trump-Pence Republican ticket “wants to punish women” who have abortions, Pence fired back: “Donald Trump and I would never support legislation that would punish women who make the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy.” Unfortunately for Pence, he chose to tell lies that could easily be disproven.

In March, Trump told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who have abortions. He later tried to backtrack to say women are really the victims in this scenario and doctors or any person who performs abortions should “be held legally responsible” if Roe v. Wade is overturned, which the Trump-Pence ticket hopes to achieve.

What Trump and Pence don’t seem to understand (or care about) is that often times the woman is both the patient and the provider.

It’s been proven that when access to abortion becomes limited or completely disappears, the rate of self-induced abortions increases. After Texas passed restrictive abortion laws in 2013, between 100,000 and 240,000 women in the state between the ages of 18 and 49 attempted to end their own pregnancies, according to a report by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project.

Attempts to punish people who end pregnancies also create a grey area around miscarriages, and there’s no guarantee women who miscarry won’t be criminally charged for killing a fetus. The case of Purvi Patel in Pence’s home state of Indiana perfectly exemplifies how women can be punished for ending a pregnancy and having a miscarriage. In very contradictory charges, Patel was convicted for feticide and neglect of a dependent last year for attempting to end her pregnancy and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. How someone was found guilty of both killing a fetus and neglecting a living child remains a mystery, but her feticide conviction was overturned and she was released from prison last month.

Nonetheless, her case proves that punishing abortion providers easily translates to punishing women who seek abortions or who miscarry. When you self-induce an abortion, you become the doctor. When you miscarry, it can be (wrongfully) argued that you killed or neglected your unborn child. If Trump and Pence want to outlaw abortion and punish those who disobey said law, women will end up behind bars for trying to control their own reproductive lives.