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Periods As Protest: Indiana Women Call Governor To Talk About Menstrual Cycles

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a press conference March 31, 2015, at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis.
Aaron P. Bernstein
Getty Images
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence speaks during a press conference March 31, 2015, at the Indiana State Library in Indianapolis.

Last month, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a law imposing new limitations on abortion.

And since then, women have been sending Pence a message.

Well, a lot of messages — about their menstrual flow, and their cramps, and their birth control, and their tampon discomfort, and their bloating, and their menopause.

It's part of an effort called Periods for Pence. A local news channel contacted the woman behind the effort; it says she wishes to remain anonymous and that she started the Facebook page because she felt the new law is invasive.

As we reported, the law bans abortion motivated by fetal abnormalities as well as other fetal characteristics. It also tightens several other restrictions on abortion.

In a statement, Pence described the law as "a comprehensive pro-life measure that affirms the value of all human life." He doesn't appear to have formally commented on the campaign.

In the early days of the Periods for Pence effort, the organizer highlighted one aspect of the law — it requires miscarried fetuses, as well as aborted fetuses, to be "interred or cremated by a facility having possession of the remains," regardless of the age of the fetus.

The "Periods for Pence" Facebook page wrote:

"Fertilized eggs can be expelled during a woman's period without a woman even knowing that she might have had the potential blastocyst in her. Therefore, any period could potentially be a miscarriage without knowledge. I would certainly hate for any of my fellow Hoosier women to be at risk of penalty if they do not 'properly dispose' of this or report it. Just to cover our bases, perhaps we should make sure to contact Governor Pence's office to report our periods. We wouldn't want him thinking that THOUSANDS OF HOOSIER WOMEN A DAY are trying to hide anything, would we?"

She invited women to call Pence's office to talk about their periods. "Let's make our bodies Mike's business for real, if this is how he wants it," the page posted.

The Facebook page shared transcripts of conversations

March 29:

Me: "Good morning. I just wanted to call and let the good Governor know that I am still not pregnant, since he seems to be so worried about women's reproductive rights."
Irritated lady on the other end of the phone: "And can I get your name, please?"
Me: "Sure, it's Not Pregnant Laura."

March 31:

Them: "Good Morning, Governor Pence's office"
Me: "Good Morning. I just wanted to inform the Governor that things seem to be drying up today. No babies seem to be up in there. Okay?"
Them: (Sounding strangely horrified and chipper at the same time) "Ma'am, can we have your name?"
Me: "Sure. It's Sue."
Them: "And your last name?"
Me: "Magina. That's M-A-G-I-N-A. It rhymes with — "
Them: "I've got it."


Me: " Good Morning! I just wanted to let Mr. Cox know that the eagle has landed. I repeat, the eagle has landed."
Them: "Ummm ... okay? Is there anything else he should know?"
Me: "I have awful cramps."
Them: (Very pleasant but desperately wanting me to shut up) "OkayIwillpassthatalong."

Women — in Indiana and elsewhere — tweeted updates of their own.

The Periods for Pence accounts reiterated several times that they weren't calling for women to send evidence of their menstrual cycles to the governor — just information. Lots and lots of information.

It's not the first such campaign, as Cosmopolitan notes. Kentucky had #askbevinaboutmyvag after Gov. Matt Bevin signed a bill requiring women to have a consultation a day before having an abortion. In Ireland, where abortion is illegal, women tweeted about their menstrual cycles to the head of the Irish government in November.

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Camila Flamiano Domonoske covers cars, energy and the future of mobility for NPR's Business Desk.