“Periods For Pence” Gets An Update To “Tampons For Trump”

Photographed by Mark Iantosca
Update: The announcement of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as presidential hopeful Donald Trump’s choice of running mate has breathed new life into the Periods for Pence protest campaign, Stat reported on Saturday. The campaign, which began in April as a response to Pence’s signature on a bill which severely restricted abortion access, called on women to contact the governor’s office to discuss their periods in explicit detail. Now, with Pence’s politics potentially going national, the organizers are tweeting out the phone number for the Trump campaign headquarters and bringing the protest to a national level.
The anonymous organizer is now working with an associated campaign called “Tampons for Trump.” The organizer of that campaign, also anonymous, explained to Stat the thinking behind the protest: “While it may seem trivial to call about your period, it’s sending a very specific message that there are women out there who value the ability to make their own decisions for their health and their health care." Trump has been criticized more than once on the campaign trail for offensive comments about women, including, infamously, his words regarding Fox News commentator Megyn Kelly after she moderated a contentious political debate. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever,” he said at the time. Now, his comments are only adding fuel to the fire.

This story was originally published on April 2, 2016.

The phone lines at the office of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence are ringing off the hook, Fusion reports. Ever since Gov. Pence signed House Bill 1337 on March 25, a campaign called Periods for Pence has urged women around the Hoosier State to protest in an unusual way. This bill institutes new regulations on abortion in Indiana, including banning abortion because of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex of the fetus, or because of "a diagnosis or potential diagnosis of the fetus having Down syndrome or any other disability." The bill deems them civil rights violations; mandating that patients must be briefed on the potential health consequences of the procedure in a private setting in order to grant informed consent; that the fetal sex, diagnosis code, and mother's name must be recorded on a pregnancy termination form; that patients must be given an opportunity to see a fetal ultrasound and listen to the fetal heartbeat at least 18 hours before the procedure; that attending physicians must have hospital-admitting privileges, which must be renewed every year; and that all miscarried or aborted fetuses must be buried or cremated, and the final remains must stay with the burial or cremation provider.
Pence called the bill a "comprehensive pro-life measure that affirms the value of all human life" and added, "[by] enacting this legislation, we take an important step in protecting the unborn, while still providing an exception for the life of the mother." Many women in Indiana disagree — and they're protesting by going public about their periods. Since Gov. Pence is that interested in their uteri, the movement Periods for Peace believes he must also want to be informed about monthly flows. “I need to get a message to the governor that I am on day three of my period,” one caller's voicemail began. “My flow seems abnormally heavy, but my cramps are much better.” Started by an anonymous woman, the campaign is organized around the Periods for Pence Facebook page.

(After being transferred directly to Katie's voicemail)Me: "Hello, this is Sue Magina again. I just hit a pothole on...

Posted by Periods for Pence on Friday, April 1, 2016
Since phone lines have been exceptionally busy, some Periods for Pence supporters are flooding the governor's inbox, instead. "I just wanted to let the Governor know that my uterus is currently expelling its contents," one woman quoted from an email she had sent on the Periods for Pence Facebook page. "While I am fairly sure that no clump of cells that could potentially be life were involved, I understand that he is seriously concerned about the reproductive health of every woman in this state." Another uterine status update vividly stated, "Day three feels like a fat man having a fiesta in my half-Mexican uterus. He's really living it up." Most recently, the campaign set up a Periods for Pence Twitter account for folks who want to follow the campaign in real time.
The realities of the legislation's potential impact is no laughing matter. The Washington Post reports that a doctor could be charged with wrongful death if he or she grants an abortion to a woman with a pregnancy complication, for instance. “[House Bill 1337] will require a woman, during one of the most devastating times in her life after learning of a fetal anomaly, to prolong her pregnancy even if against her wishes, and to potentially assume the greater health risks associated with doing so,” Indianapolis Ob/Gyn Brownsyne Tucker-Edmonds told The Washington Post.

Those requirements might also compel women to hide information from their physicians in order to avoid having to make such difficult decisions, Hal Lawrence, chief executive of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told The Post in explaining the group's opposition to the bill. So far, Indiana and North Dakota are the only two states that have enacted the controversial ban. Planned Parenthood in Indiana and the American Civil Liberties Union plan to take the contentious bill to court, the Associated Press reports. In the meantime, Periods for Pence will keep on dialing. In an interview with WRTV, Indianapolis' ABC News affiliate, the anonymous campaign founder said, "The more I read this bill, the more vague language I found and the more loopholes, and it just seemed incredibly intrusive. So I wanted to give a voice for women who really didn’t feel like they were given any kind of input into a bill that would affect our life so much." Judging by the media attention the collective voices and mounting social media presence are receiving, it might prove harder for the Indiana government to hang up on women's reproductive rights and long-term health.

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