Indiana Governor Mike Pence Photo: Bloomberg
The office of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has been fielding some unusual calls this week. In response to a new abortion law, women are reporting the details of their menstrual cycles to befuddled staff.
"Hello, everything is flowing nicely this month, little heavier than normal," one woman said she told Pence's office. "My vagina and I had an amazing weekend," another said. "I just wanted to inform the governor that things seem to be drying up today," a third said.
These calls come from Indiana residents protesting the state's new abortion law, which bans abortions motivated by the fetus' race, gender or disabilities such as Down syndrome and makes doctors liable if they perform them. The law also states that the remains of a "miscarried or aborted fetus must be interred or cremated."
To one suburban mother in Indiana, the burial provision crossed the line into absurdity. She created a Facebook page called Periods for Pence 10 days ago.
"Any period could potentially be a miscarriage without knowledge," she wrote. "I would 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. Perhaps we should contact Governor Pence's office to report our periods. We wouldn't want him thinking that thousands of Hoosier women are trying to hide anything, would we?"
In a generally conservative and anti-abortion state, the Facebook page has picked up more than 30,000 likes and has provoked a heavy influx of calls to the governor's office. The creator of the page says this law crossed a line that bothered even Christian and Republican women.
"I'm not an activist and I've never been politically involved, but I've voted Republican," she said. She asked to remain anonymous, because she works with children at a Christian organisation.
"If I revealed my identity, I'd lose my job by next Monday," she said. "There is a perception in the Christian community that you're not religious if you're pro-choice. But I go to church every weekend and think of myself as a good Christian."
The Christian research group LifeWay Research recently surveyed 1,038 women who have had abortions. It found that 70 per cent had a Christian religious preference and that 43 per cent reported attending church monthly or more often. More than half of churchgoers who have had an abortion said they did not tell anyone at their church about their decision.
Pence's office has not officially responded to the tongue-in-cheek phone calls, except to say staffers are "always willing to take calls from constituents who have questions, concerns or are looking for assistance." The governor's supporters have suggested the calls come from Democrats.
"The people who are joining this weren't going to vote for him anyhow," Republican strategist Mike Murphy said to Fox 59. "Right to life in this state is a winning issue, hands down."
But several women who have participated in the Periods for Pence campaign say they have previously been Republican voters.
Krystle Berger, 30, said she has always voted Republican, based on economic policy. "But as he has openly promoted socially backward laws regardless of how much they grow the government, I can't support Gov. Pence any longer," she said.
Indianapolis resident Michelle Moore, 49, said that she emailed Pence a question: "How would I know if my teenage daughter expels fetal tissue? Should I be checking my teenage daughter's period or will the state be sending someone around monthly?"
She said she has liberal views but used to be open to voting for Republicans. She consistently voted for longtime Republican Sen. Richard Lugar.
But this law might change her views. "I had a miscarriage at 5.5 weeks between my two kids," she said. "You feel very guilty. It's a horrible feeling."
She said, "If someone said, 'Now take these remains and have a funeral service,' I can't even imagine how much more painful it would have been."
The founder of the Facebook page said people have called these women's phone calls to Pence "childish" and "immature."
"But this is a ridiculous response," she said, "to a ridiculous bill."