In an interview on MSNBC, Donald Trump brought up the idea that women who seek abortions should be “punished.” The audience, women’s rights groups, and other politicians were incensed. How dare he say that!? The March for Life erroneously referred to women who gets abortions as “victims” and said that it was wrong to “punish” these women. There can’t be punishment for these women in such a free country as the United States! Oh no?!
In most states, women cannot get abortions from state health care, at least five states have each closed all except one clinic providing this service, a current case in the Supreme Court is considering whether to force women in Texas to drive at least 200 miles to a women’s clinic, and at least one state restricts abortions past 18 weeks. Women are forced to get and watch ultrasounds, wait up to three days, and listen to lies from doctors telling them the problems of having abortions such as cancer.
Just when rational people think that a state cannot come up with more punishment for women who have abortions, Indiana has thought of a few new wrinkles. Gov. Mike Pence has totally banned abortions if a women requests it because a fetus has Down syndrome or any other disorder. These defects could include the ones related to Zika virus, meaning that a woman would be forced to carry fetuses to term that have no chance of surviving long after birth. A lethal fetal illness is legal only if the woman informs the state that she plans to terminate the pregnancy.
A woman’s doctor can face a wrongful death lawsuit if he provides an abortion after learning about a pregnancy complication. One OB/GYN said that the law could imperil patients’ health by deterring doctors from performing a legal medical procedure. He said that “some women have “cases in which the risk of death during a full-term pregnancy is more than 14 times higher than for a termination of pregnancy.” The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, with 30,000 members, opposes the law because a patient might keep life-threatening information from her doctor.
The legislature didn’t stop there. Donating fetal issue to scientific research is classified as a felony crime, and abortion providers responsible for burying or cremating “fetal remains.” Physicians must also provide information “about perinatal hospice care to a pregnant woman who is considering an abortion because the unborn child has been diagnosed with a lethal fetal anomaly.” Women are forced to listen to a fetal heartbeat and view an ultrasound 18 hours before getting an abortion in a state that has only four clinics in 92 counties.
Women have decided to fight back. In a new program called “Periods for Pence,” women are calling the governor’s office with details about their menstruation. It is based on the women’s assumption that the governor deserves updates on their bodies because he has shown so much interest in them. Below are sampling of call reports:
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.”
Just got through to Governor Pence’s office. (The operator must be on break.)
Me: “Hi, is this the operator, or the Governor’s office?”
Them: “Um, this is the office, but I am covering for the operator right now.”
Me: “Oh, good. 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 pissed and trying to keep their voice down, but not quite succeeding.) MA’AM, WHAT IS IT THAT I CAN HELP YOU WITH?
Me: “Oh, I don’t need your help, I just wanted to keep Governor Pence informed of my reproductive cycle, since he seems so concerned.
Them: “Ugh.” (Click.)
I called to let him know that I am a lesbian so I won’t be needing an abortion (or legal protections, for that matter lol double whammy! Thanks, Pence!) also mentioned that I’m not currently menstruating but I might be ovulating.
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.” (Click.)
Someone from Pence’s campaign literally just rang my doorbell, wanting to know if I was likely to vote Republican or Democrat in the upcoming election. I let him know that I wasn’t sure, and that I’m going to be ovulating soon, and that I was unclear on whether or not I was legally required to fertilize the egg. He started cracking up.
Operator: Governor Mike Pence’s Office, please hold… (Six minutes later.) Governor Pence’s office, thank you for waiting…
Me: Hi, I’m a native Hoosier who derives from the uterus of another native Hoosier…
Operator: (clears throat.)
Me: I now live in California and I’m wondering if my uterus still falls under the jurisdiction of Governor Pence or– ?
Operator: Please hold. (Click.)
The woman who launched this initiative on Facebook wrote:
“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.”
The law includes a reporting requirement that “some women on their periods may unknowingly expel a fertilized egg and thus have a miscarriage and be potentially liable if the egg is not correctly disposed of.” Lawmakers didn’t take into consideration that about half of miscarriages take place shortly after a fertilized is implanted and occur about the time when a woman might expect her menstrual period. She may not even know that she was having a “miscarriage.” As the creator of Periods of Pence wrote, “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.” Therefore she recommends to women that they report to the governor about their menstrual periods in detail to keep from breaking his new law.
Some women, such as Madi Whitman, are choosing to post information on the governor’s Facebook page instead of calling:
Dear Governor Pence,
I recently switched from tampons to a menstrual cup and have found that it has an unexpected learning curve. I am having trouble with the position of my cervix at the onset of my period and as a result the cup leaks. Since you are so invested in my reproductive health and clearly understand my anatomy better than I do, I would appreciate any advice you have in cup placement and rotation techniques. Thanks!
And this request from Brandy Hager Smith:
Governor, I am thinking about getting a pair of underwear called Thinx. They are designed to catch the blood from Menstruation, replacing the need for tampons & pads. Are these approved by you? I don’t want to violate any of our strict women’s rights laws in Indiana. Thanks for undying commitment to women’s health!!!
Those wishing to participate in “Periods for Pence” can call (317) 232-4567, or 317–569-0709, fill out a form on the governor’s website, or leave a message on his Facebook page. More message are on his Facebook page.)
In late March, one Missouri state legislator explained one reason why lawmakers consider themselves authorities on women’s reproduction. In a discussion about whether to ban abortion in the state, GOP Rep. Mike Moon claimed to know when a fetus becomes an “unborn human child” because he is a “former embryo.” After the audience finished laughing at him, a certified health expert testified against the resolution, explaining that there is no scientific consensus on when a fetus becomes a person and declaring that women should have the final choice about ending a pregnancy. The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that only “all persons born” are granted citizenship under the jurisdiction of the United States. Two key words: persons and born. Personhood begins at birth.
When the cervix of a pregnant woman in Texas began prematurely dilating, nothing could be done to save the 20-week-old fetus. State law sent the woman home to wait until the fetus no longer had a heartbeat or the woman could deliver the fetus. After she started bleeding, she went back to the hospital where she had to wait four days until the fetus no longer had a heartbeat.
Thanks to “religious liberty” and conservatives, medical decisions are made by ignorant lawmakers who consider themselves experts in women’s reproductive health.