Mike Pence Praises Hungarian Leader's Conservative Policies, Hopes SCOTUS Bans Abortion

While speaking at the Budapest Demographic Summit on Thursday, former Vice President Mike Pence praised Hungary's lowered abortion rates under Prime Minister Viktor Orban's leadership and expressed hope for a similar outcome in the U.S., the Associated Press reported.

The summit, which has taken place every two years since 2015, typically focuses on decrying illegal immigration and advocating for families to have more children.

Recognizing Hungary's own success in decreasing abortions, Pence expressed hope that the U.S. could do the same, especially in light of the conservative majority instated in the U.S. Supreme Court by the administration he served in with former President Donald Trump. He also spoke of the 300 conservative judges appointed to federal courts during the administration, including three Supreme Court justices, the AP reported.

"We may well have a fresh start in the cause of life in America," Pence said. "It is our hope and our prayer that in the coming days, a new conservative majority on the Supreme Court of the United States will take action to restore the sanctity of life at the center of American law."

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Mike Pence Gives Speech
While speaking at the Budapest Demographic Summit on Thursday, former Vice President Mike Pence praised Hungary’s lowered abortion rates under Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s leadership and expressed hope for a similar outcome in the U.S. Pence holds a speech during the summit in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. Laszlo Balogh/AP Photo

Hungary under Orban has become a political model for right-wing leaders and commentators across the Western world who admire his hard-line opposition to illegal migration and his support for conservative social values.

Tucker Carlson, the most popular host on the right-wing Fox News Channel, spent a week broadcasting from Budapest in August where he heaped praise on Hungary under Orban's rule, and made a visit by helicopter to a fence along the country's southern border.

On Wednesday, the Hungarian state news agency reported that Budapest would next year host the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC, an annual gathering of primarily U.S. conservative activists and politicians.

While Orban's approach to immigration has earned him the admiration of many Western conservatives, they overlook his authoritarian streak — his consolidation of Hungary's media, erosion of democratic institutions and discrimination against minorities, including asylum seekers and LGBT people.

Pence has spent the months since leaving office building a post-White House operation that has included launching a new political advocacy group, delivering speeches, fundraising and bolstering relationships that could help him should he choose to run for president in 2024.

He has tried to position himself as a conservative who can appeal both to his white Evangelical Christian base as well as Trump supporters and those who may have been fond of Trump's policies, but not his pugilistic style.

Still, Pence faces an uphill battle after he drew Trump's ire by declining to block the certification of his 2020 election defeat, which the former president still refuses to accept.

Orban, the Hungarian leader who faces re-election next year, lamented that conservatives including Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu have faced electoral losses recently. But addressing Pence, he said: "Vice President, we wish you a comeback as soon as possible."

Orban also described how Hungary, under his rule since 2010, has used the state "to shape demographic processes" by restricting migration and using tax breaks and other state instruments to ensure that having children is beneficial economically for families.

Other leaders from the region also addressed the forum, including Serbian President Alexander Vucic, who voiced his concerns about Europe's declining population growth relative to the rest of the world. If things continue as they are, he said, "within 30 years Nigeria — just one African country — will have more inhabitants than the entire European Union, more inhabitants than the United States of America."

Pence spoke at a pivotal time for abortion rights in the U.S. Republican-led state legislatures have enacted increasingly restrictive laws and the Supreme Court's conservative majority recently allowed a Texas law banning most abortions to go into effect.

The court is due next to consider a Mississippi ban on most abortions after 15 weeks.

Anti-abortion activists hope that the court will use that case to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling which ensured a woman's constitutional right to an abortion.

Orban Speaks at Summit
The biannual demographic summit in Budapest, which was first organized in 2015, offers a forum for "pro-family thinker" decision-makers, scientists, researchers, and church representatives of the same sort to exchange their thoughts about connections between demographics and sustainability. Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban holds a speech during the 4th Budapest Demographic Summit in Budapest, Hungary, Thursday, Sept. 23, 2021. Laszlo Balogh/AP Photo