Do you ever get the feeling Republican lawmakers are way too interested in the goings-on in your uterus? Just last month Republican governor Mike Pence signed off on a vicious and invasive anti-abortion law that forbids a woman from aborting a pregnancy due to the fetus' genetic abnormalities—meaning that an Indiana woman can be forced to carry a pregnancy to term even if her doctor has told her the baby will be stillborn.
Under the new law, women are also forced to pay for a fetus funeral if they abort or miscarry. Indiana already had stringent abortion laws on the books. The laws included "safety" guidelines for clinics that provide abortion—that they have admitting privileges to a nearby hospital, that the buildings have a certain width of hallway— which effectively are meant to regulate providers out of existence. Indiana is also a state in which women can be prosecuted for feticide if they induce miscarriage. While these laws purport to look out for the health of women and children, they really only exist to severely limit access to abortion.
The menstruating hordes of Indiana are fed up and have decided that the only way to get Mike Pence and other GOP werewolves off their backs is to give them the intimate access to their vaginas they so desperately crave. Enter Periods for Pence, a group of women dedicated to calling, tweeting, and emailing governor Mike Pence to let him know what their uteruses are up to.
Here's a typical message:
"[The law] was being discussed a lot in the news. I read the bill and realized that it is both intrusive and confusing," says Sue, the woman who created the Periods for Pence Facebook page. "I said to my husband, 'If he's this worried about what goes on in there, maybe I should just call and tell him about my period.' And I went back that night and started the page."
Indiana women like Kathy Miller, 24, are taking Pence and the bill's author, Casey Cox, at their word. Since these men are so concerned about her uterus, Miller is giving them weekly updates.
"My period was really late," Miller says, "and I thought maybe I'd had a miscarriage. I called Mike Pence to let him know, and I got Katie." Katie is the name of the woman who fields calls for Mike Pence, and she's taken on folk hero status at the Periods for Pence Facebook page, where many people share anecdotes about her various exasperated responses.
"As soon as she heard a woman's voice, she knew what was up. I let her know that my period had been really late, and I might have been pregnant, but I smoke and drink a lot, so, how would the governor feel about that? She sounded really irritated. She said, 'The governor's not in,' and I asked if I could call back and let him know about my late period. She said he wouldn't take any calls from me. I called back again, and she said the same thing."
Laura Reagan, 32, has tweeted or emailed Pence's every day for the last few weeks. Regan was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome by her doctor, but since Pence and his cohorts claim to be the real experts on women's health, Regan has decided to consult with them on her health issues as well. "I asked him if he and I could discuss my treatment," Regan says, "what he finds, in his experience, are the best sanitary products and so on." Regan adds that she's frustrated by the hypocrisy of Hooisers who always cry out for smaller government, "unless it comes to women's reproduction, then they want to regulate the crap out of it."
Chelsea Black, 28, called Pence's office recently and reached Katie. " I said I just wanted to let Governor Pence know that I'm currently on my period and wanted some advice about what I should do to better be in compliance with the new statutes. I also asked if anal or oral sex would be considered a waste of millions of babies or perhaps thought of as the earliest term abortions possible. " Katie was not amused and hung up.
"It's important to me to voice my displeasure and disdain for the current policies in place, and the policy makers that treat their public service appointments as a platform for their own ideological views and not those of their constituents," Black says, though she admits that she doesn't know if these phone calls and hashtags will really change anything. Nevertheless, Black thinks the Periods of Pence call to action is a good one because it allows "voices to be heard that were not even thought of in the planning or implementation of the bill."
Periods for Pence has officially asked menstruating Hoosiers not to send "evidentiary proof" of their periods to Mike Pence for fear of violating mail tampering laws.