Likely Trump VP pick Mike Pence helped spark the federal fight against Planned Parenthood

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Donald Trump's Top VP prospects: Mike Pence, Chris Christie, Newt Gingrich

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence —Trump's reported vice presidential pick — helped launch the federal fight against Planned Parenthood nearly a decade ago.

Republicans have worked tirelessly to defund the organization, which is the nation's largest abortion provider, since the 1970s. But prior to Pence's efforts, most of those battles had been fought on the state level.

If officially named as running mate, Pence's history of fighting abortion could boost Trump's standing as a conservative — the controversial billionaire has long struggled to win the support of the religious right.

Click through images of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence through the years:

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence through the years
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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence through the years
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (R) and Indiana Governor Mike Pence (L) wave to the crowd before addressing the crowd during a campaign stop at the Grand Park Events Center in Westfield, Indiana, July 12, 2016. REUTERS/John Sommers II
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 07: Mike Pence, R-Ind. (Photo By Douglas Graham/Roll Call/Getty Images)
Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, right, talks about the flooding in Indiana to Rep. Mike Sodrel, R-Ind, left, Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., and Fred Armstrong, Mayor of Columbus, during a stop in Columbus, Ind., Wednesay, Jan. 12, 2005. A wave of thunderstorms moved across Indiana overnight, causing some scattered flash flooding in north-central Indiana on Wednesday as already saturated ground could not handle the additional rain.(AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Representatives Mike Pence, R-Ind. and Jeff Flake, R-Az speak with reporters outside the White House after meeting with President Bush, Wednesday, April 27, 2005, in Washington. President Bush met with several members of congress to talk about his Social Security agenda. (AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson)
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who together proposed a bill concerning illegal immigrants, take part in a news conference in San Antonio, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2006. Hutchison and Pence toured the Customs and Border Protection Air Operations Center in San Antonio during their visit. Their proposal would require illegal immigrants to cross the border and apply through privately run "Ellis Island" centers to return to the United States on work visas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
House Republican Conference Chairman Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind. takes part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., center, accompanied by Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R- Calif., left, and Rep. Randy Neugebauer, R-Texas., listens to comments during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Haraz N. Ghanbari)
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., speaks at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Saturday, April 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., speaks at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Saturday, April 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., meets with constituents during a town hall meeting in Pendleton, Ind., Friday, Jan. 28, 2011. Pence announced yesterday that he will not seek the presidency in 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., is surrounded by supporters after announcing his campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor of Indiana during an gathering of supporters in Columbus, Ind., Saturday, June 11, 2011. Pence promised to fight health care reform and federal climate change legislation. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., as he kicks off his campaign for the Republican nomination for Governor of Indiana during an gathering of supporters in Columbus, Ind., Saturday, June 11, 2011. Pence promised to fight health care reform and federal climate change legislation. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence delivers his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature at the Statehouse Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence addresses the Illiana Industry Forum Monday, June 24, 2013, in Rosemont, Ill. Pence was joined by Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in hosting a business forum for a planned 47-mile expressway aimed at relieving traffic congestion into the Chicago area. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Dwayne Sawyer speaks after being named as the Auditor of State for Indiana by Gov. Mike Pence during a news conference at the Statehouse Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013, in Indianapolis. Sawyer will complete former Auditor Tim Berryâs term, which runs through 2014. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence talks with Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann before giving his State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature at the Statehouse Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, second from left, South Carolina Gov. Nikki R. Haley, second from right, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, far right, listens as Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, far left, speaks during a press conference at the Republican Governors Association's quarterly meeting on Wednesday May 21, 2014 in New York. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence pauses while speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Friday, Feb. 27, 2015 in National Harbor, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks at the National Rifle Association convention Friday, May 20, 2016, in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
FILE - In this July 3, 2016, file photo, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a news conference before attending Symphony on the Prairie for a Fourth of July concert in Fishers, Ind. Pence is one of several Republicans Trump is considering for his vice presidential running mate. Trump is expected to announce his decision on Friday. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy, File)
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That gives Pence a major advantage over other potential Trump picks — like retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who said he was pro-choice and earned dismay from many Republicans. He later waffled over his position on abortion rights.

But Pence has a consistent anti-abortion track record. In 2007, while serving in Congress, Pence sponsored an amendment to an appropriations bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood by blocking it from receiving Title X grants.

The amendment didn't pass, but he pursued the issue for another four years before the House of Representatives finally approved an amendment to defund Planned Parenthood. That measure ultimately failed to become law — but not before it nearly shut down the federal government.

"What's clear to me, if you follow the money, you can actually take the funding supports out of abortion," he told Politico in 2011. "We then have a much better opportunity to move forward to be a society that says yes to life."

Planned Parenthood is prohibited from using federal money for abortions, but typically spends it on other women's health care services, like STD tests and exams to provide contraception. Pence argued that taking away federal funding from health clinics would limit their ability to perform abortions.

"We should end the day when the largest abortion provider is the largest recipient of [Title X] federal funding," he said.

The House has now voted eight times to defund Planned Parenthood. After an anti-abortion group last year released several videos claiming Planned Parenthood was involved in criminal activities, the debate over abortion has only grown more contentious.

Pence has also introduced several anti-abortion measures in his own state since becoming governor — including one this March that prohibits women from having abortions based on the disability status of the fetus, and mandated the cremation or burial of fetal tissue. The law was temporarily blocked by a federal judge following the Supreme Court's landmark abortion decision in June.

"Let the abortion providers provide for themselves," Pence told Politico. "I'd like to continue to be a persistent, respectful voice for the sanctity of life."

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