In March, an anonymous Indiana woman started a Facebook page known as Periods for Pence, calling on women to call Indiana Governor Mike Pence’s office with intimate details about their menstrual cycle. The movement was meant to protest legislation, signed into law by the firmly anti-abortion Pence, that required women who had miscarriages or abortions to bury or cremate the fetuses.
“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,” the woman wrote on the Facebook page. “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. Just to cover our bases, perhaps we should make sure to contact Governor Pence’s office to report our periods. We wouldn’t want him thinking that THOUSANDS OF HOOSIER WOMEN A DAY are trying to hide anything, would we?”
The Facebook page garnered over 77,000 likes, and gained national attention after Donald Trump chose Pence as his running mate. Now, with less than one week until the election, the woman behind Periods for Pence is coming forward publicly for the first time — and she’s not backing down.
Laura Shanley, a 38-year-old preschool teacher, made her public debut at a get-out-the-vote rally in Indiana on Wednesday. She said that she initially decided to start the page anonymously because it was at odds with the values of the conservative church she worked for at the time. “I don’t feel right asking women to put themselves out there while I’m surrounded by this level of protection. And I feel like I can’t stay quiet,” she told the Indianapolis Star after the rally. “This page has morphed into a community that’s about a lot more than being pro-choice.”
Shanley told the Star that she was raised in a conservative church that opposed abortion and understands why Pence, who is deeply religious, disapproves of abortion. “But there has got to be a point where empathy overrides theocracy,” Shanley said.
“I’m a type one 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.”
Since starting the page, Stanley has called Pence’s office nearly every day to share every little detail about her flow with the governor. She told the Star that she’s also called the headquarters of other staunch anti-abortion politicians, including Trump and Indiana Representatives Casey Cox and Liz Brown, who were instrumental in getting the strict abortion legislation that sparked the protest passed. And she said she’s happy that the Periods for Pence page has sparked some conversation on the issue.
Still, Shanley hopes to be able to have a direct conversation with Pence about the issue one day. But if that conversation were to happen, would she share more personal details about her period?
“Probably not,” Shanley told the Star. “Maybe as the parting sentence, ‘I’m a little bit crampy.'”
Read Shanley’s full interview with the Indianapolis Star here.