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Pence says fertility treatments "deserve the protection of the law"

Full interview: Former VP Pence on "Face the Nation"
Full interview: Former Vice President Mike Pence on "Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan" 44:27

Washington — As Republican-led states impose restrictions on abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v. Wade, raising concerns about how the limits will impact access to reproductive medicine, former Vice President Mike Pence said he believes there should be legal protections for fertility treatments.

"I fully support fertility treatments and I think they deserve the protection of the law," Pence said in an interview with "Face the Nation" that aired Sunday. "They gave us great comfort in those long and challenging years that we struggled with infertility in our marriage."

Pence and his wife, Karen, have first-hand experience with fertility treatment. The former vice president revealed in his new book, "So Help Me God," that the couple struggled for more than five years with infertility, and his wife underwent IVF numerous times. "So Help Me God" is published by Simon & Schuster, which is a division of Paramount Global, as is CBS News.

"I'll never forget the day that I called home, driving off to a work appointment, and Karen answered the phone and said 'Happy Father's Day.' And our son would come along, then a daughter, then another daughter, all within three years. We were busy, but joyful," he told "Face the Nation."

Pence, who staunchly opposes abortion, added that he also believes that as the nation navigates the new landscape without the constitutional right to an abortion, "we can protect the unborn."

"We can come alongside women in crisis pregnancies, and we can support the newborn with equal vigor," he said. "And that's the challenge that I'll be articulating all across this country, to leaders in cities large and small, that if we come up with principle and compassion for the unborn, for newborns, for mothers with unexpected pregnancies, we can win the cause of life in America."

Pence has long been a champion of restricting abortion access and has made the issue a cornerstone of his political agenda, from his days in the House to serving as Indiana's governor to being elected vice president. And while some Republicans shied away from discussing abortion in the run-up to the midterm elections, Pence embraced the issue, reiterating his long-held belief on "Face the Nation" that Roe "would be sent to the ash heap of history."

"The Dobbs decision this summer that I was so grateful to see, the majority of which was made up by Supreme Court justices that we appointed and confirmed to the court, really gave the country a new beginning for life," he said, referencing the Supreme Court decision reversing Roe. "And it did return the question of abortion to the states and the American people."

In the wake of the high court's blockbuster ruling, Republican-led state legislatures acted quickly to pass bills banning abortion. At the federal level, Sen. Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, introduced legislation to impose a nationwide ban on abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. 

Pence said he would have supported Graham's 15-week ban "as a beginning" if he were in Congress, but he believes the legislative action will occur at the state level.

"It may take as long to restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law in all 50 states as it did to overturn Roe v. Wade, but people that know me and my family know that so long as we live, we'll seek to be about the business of life in this country and doing our part to support sanctity of life," he said.

On the issue of same-sex marriage, Pence said that as a Christian, he believes marriage is between a man and a woman, but noted that the Supreme Court has held the Constitution guarantees the right to same-sex marriage. 

"We can disagree with Supreme Court decisions, but we can't disobey them," he said. "I respect the pronouncements of the Court. And I actually think it's just as important as we go forward as a nation, that we make it clear that we don't believe in discrimination against anyone because of who they are, who they love, or what they believe."

Still, Pence emphasized the need for protections for religious liberty. 

"The ability to live, to work, to worship, in a manner according to the dictates of your conscience, and I think we're getting there," he said. "I think we're moving forward as a nation and I look forward to continuing to express my values, but express them with compassion for every American whether they share my values or not."

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