Nearly every day, Laura Shanley calls vice presidential nominee Mike Pence's office to let him know how her menstrual cycle is going. “I just wanted to call and let the governor know my flow was particularly heavy today,” she said in her first call to the statehouse in March of this year, according to the Indianapolis Star.
The next day Shanley, a 38-year-old preschool teacher, started the Facebook page for Periods for Pence, the Star revealed yesterday, ending a months-long mystery as to who came up with one of the most brilliant reproductive-rights protests of our time.
Periods for Pence has since grown to more than 77,000 followers and following Pence's elevation to the top of the Republican ticket, it changed its name to Periods for Pols. It all started when Gov. Pence signed a completely bonkers bill that would ban abortions if the only reason was that the fetus had a genetic physical disability. It would also require abortion providers to bury or cremate aborted tissue. (In June, the law was struck down by a judge.)
The idea behind Periods for Pols is simple: If politicians care so much about women's reproductive health, then women should keep them posted on every detail of their menstrual cycles. "If the governor is this interested in what’s going on in my body, I might as well call and tell him," Shanley said of her original call, according to the Star.
Shanley told the Star that she initially opted to start the Periods for Pence page anonymously because the movement was at odds with the values of a conservative church that she worked for at the time. As someone who was raised in a conservative church that opposes abortion, she said, she understands where Pence is coming from.
"But there has got to be a point where empathy overrides theocracy," she said. "We are adults, autonomous beings."
Since starting Periods for Pols, Shanley has called the governor's office every day to pass along details about her menstrual cycle. On days when she's not on her period, Shanley offers other uterus concerns: "I said I was on I-70 and I had hit a pothole and I was worried it had jiggled something loose in there," she recalled telling a representative once.
In addition to calling Pence's office, Shanley also calls Trump and Indiana representatives Casey Cox and Liz Brown, other anti-abortion politicians.
Shanley told the Star that she thinks Periods for Pence has made elected officials in Indiana pay more attention — "We had enough calls that they stopped directing the calls to the governor’s office," she said.
However, she'd still like to sit down with Pence and have a conversation about reproductive rights.
“I’m a Type 1 diabetic, so I really understand you can do everything right, follow every rule, and do what you’re supposed to do, and your body is not always going to cooperate,” she said. “For you to have the ability to make a choice regarding your health and some guy somewhere thinks he has a better say in that infuriates me. Because I know how that feels, to really not control your body.”
You can read Shanley's full interview, which happened ahead of her first political appearance at a get-out-the-vote rally, with the Indianapolis Star here.