“Periods For Pence” Is Activism 101 In the Digital Age
Caller: I need to get a message to the Governor that I am on day three of my period. My flow seems abnormally heavy, but my cramps are much better to–
Them: (seriously annoyed and trying to keep their voice down, but not quite succeeding) MA’AM, WHAT IS IT THAT I CAN HELP YOU WITH?
Caller: Oh, I don’t need your help, I just wanted to keep Governor Pence informed of my reproductive cycle, since he seems so concerned.
Caller: 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?
Caller: Sure. It’s Sue.
Them: And your last name?
Caller: Magina. That’s M-A-G-I-N-A. It rhymes with–
Them: I’ve got it.
Periods For Pence
Indiana governor Mike Pence signed into law House Enrolled Act 1337, which added new provisions to Indiana’s existing abortion laws. The Indiana senate passed the bill 37 to 13, and the Indiana house passed the bill 60 to 40. Ian Tuttle documents how the new law includes prohibitions on abortions obtained on the basis of “race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, or diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability.” It also augments the “informed consent” provisions currently on the books by adding to the list of information that a facility must provide to a woman seeking an abortion; and it adds a requirement that fetal remains from a miscarriage or abortion be cremated or interred.
The creator of the “Periods for Pence” Facebook page has been transcribing her calls to the Governor’s Office. The Facebook page explains that “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.” Their solution is to give the governor’s office regular updates on their periods, to make sure they won’t be prosecuted. In fact, the law could conceivably be used to jail women who miscarry at home, then fail to dispose of the remains properly. The legislature added specific language about miscarriage into the law.
Late miscarriages generally happen after a period of pain and labor-like cramps so it’s something that generally happens in hospital care. The late miscarriages referred to on the “Periods For Pence” Facebook page actually refers to silent miscarriages that would happen before the life is a technically a “fetus.” I’m not sure it would qualify under the law.
If you’re pro-choice, you believe a fetus has no moral claim to life, or that it does, but not until a later point in a pregnancy, or that it’s a person with a moral claim but one whose claim to life is subordinate to the mother’s claim to bodily autonomy. With technology and medication, abortion has become easier, yet abortion rates are the lowest they’ve been in 40 years.
The ideal outcome is to amend or to repeal the law, and unseat the legislators who they believe are misrepresenting the state. This is a great way to broadcast their cause, and to make government accountable to its constituency.
There are women already jailed in Indiana for “self abortion”. Morning-after and abortion pills were reviewed and evaluated by the FDA for over a decade. They turned out be safe enough to be purchased over the counter. The dose is lowered to 200mg from 600 and it’s effective up to 70 days into the pregnancy. Whose going to prosecute the women who use them?