Indiana governor Mike Pence said that he would never support legislation that punishes women who get abortions, despite his state being one of the strictest, pro-life states in the country.
At the vice presidential debate in Farmville, Virginia, Mr Pence, Donald Trump’s running mate, said he believed in the “sanctity of life” due to his religious background, and that a society should be judged by how it protects its most "vulnerable" - the aged, those with disabilities and the unborn.
Yet Mr Pence rejected claims that he would punish women who get abortions.
"Donald Trump and I would never support legislation against women who make the heartbreaking choice to end a pregnancy," he insisted.
Mr Trump said to MSNBC in March that there should be "some sort of punishment" for women who get an abortion. He later retracted the comment and said the punishment should be focused on providers.
In Indiana, abortion is severely restricted, despite a federal law called Roe V Wade, which legalised abortion in 1973.
Indiana requires a fully licensed doctor to carry out the procedure, enforces a waiting period, consent requirements and strict facility codes.
Women are also required to pay funeral costs for unborn fetuses - a law that was passed in 2015.
Women can also be jailed.
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
Donald Trump's most controversial quotes
1/14 On Isis:
"Some of the candidates, they went in and didn’t know the air conditioner didn’t work and sweated like dogs, and they didn’t know the room was too big because they didn’t have anybody there. How are they going to beat ISIS?"
2/14 On immigration:
"I will build a great wall — and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me —and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."
3/14 On Free Trade:
"Free trade is terrible. Free trade can be wonderful if you have smart people. But we have stupid people."
PAUL J. RICHARDS | AFP | Getty Images
4/14 On Mexicans:
"When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re sending people that have lots of problems. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists."
5/14 On China:
"I just sold an apartment for $15 million to somebody from China. Am I supposed to dislike them?... I love China. The biggest bank in the world is from China. You know where their United States headquarters is located? In this building, in Trump Tower."
6/14 On work:
"If you're interested in 'balancing' work and pleasure, stop trying to balance them. Instead make your work more pleasurable."
7/14 On success:
"What separates the winners from the losers is how a person reacts to each new twist of fate."
8/14 On life:
"Everything in life is luck."
9/14 On ambition:
"You have to think anyway, so why not think big?"
10/14 On his opponents:
"Bush is totally in favour of Common Core. I don't see how he can possibly get the nomination. He's weak on immigration. He's in favour of Common Core. How the hell can you vote for this guy? You just can't do it."
11/14 On Obamacare:
"You have to be hit by a tractor, literally, a tractor, to use it, because the deductibles are so high. It's virtually useless. And remember the $5 billion web site?... I have so many web sites, I have them all over the place. I hire people, they do a web site. It costs me $3."
12/14 On Barack Obama:
"Obama is going to be out playing golf. He might be on one of my courses. I would invite him. I have the best courses in the world. I have one right next to the White House."
13/14 On himself:
"Love him or hate him, Trump is a man who is certain about what he wants and sets out to get it, no holds barred. Women find his power almost as much of a turn-on as his money."
14/14 On America:
"The American Dream is dead. But if I get elected president I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before and we will make America great again."
Purvi Patel was jailed for two decades last year for self-inducing an abortion in July 2013. She has recently filed an appeal and walked free after a judge overturned the conviction.
Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton’s running mate and the senator of Virginia, insisted that women should make their own reproductive decisions.
"It’s not the role of a public servant to mandate that [reproductive choices] for everyone else," he said.
"We support the continual right of American women to consult their own conscience, their own supportive partner, their own minister, but make their own decision about pregnancy," he said.
"We trust American women to do that. And we don’t think women should be punished as Donald Trump said they should to have an abortion."
Mr Kaine, also a man of religious background, personally does not believe in abortion. He voted against the Hyde Amendment, a provision to bar the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortion.
"Why don’t you trust women, why doesn’t Donald Trump trust women to make that choice by themselves?" Mr Kaine asked Mr Pence.
"We should cherish the worth, the dignity, the value of every human life," the governor retorted.Reuse content