Friday, April 08, 2016

Periods For Pence: Backlash Against Conservative Dogma In Indiana

Indiana Republican Governor Mike Pence 
What is it with Republican Indiana Governor Mike Pence and spring?

It's like he's some kind of right-wing ideological farmer who views the spring as an ideal time to "plant" extremist conservative legislative overreach and watch it grow.

If you recall, it was just about this time last year when Pence was making global headlines after signing into law the controversial legislative measure known as SB 101, or the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

A law that would have extended religious rights to businesses.

Not to worship or pray, but in order to allow ideologically conservative business owners to discriminate against LGBT customers by permitting any "business" to use their "religious beliefs" as a legal defense in court in the event they get sued for denying an LGBT person services or goods.

It was discrimination pure and simple and the public backlash by civil rights groups, legal advocacy groups, corporations / businesses and members of the LGBT community and heterosexual people alike was immediate - the reaction on social media was severe and in the face of pressure the legislature had to amend the law and tone it down.

I awarded Pence an un-coveted George Lincoln Rockwell Award in my March 31, 2015 blog for his actions.

Well as you've probably heard, Governor Pence is once again back in the media headlines for passing HEA 1337, one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the nation; a law that not only bans women from getting abortions based on the race, gender or abnormalities within the fetus, it requires women to listen to the heartbeat of the fetus and look at an ultrasound of the fetus 18 hours before getting an abortion - out of the 92 counties in Indiana, only 4 have abortion clinics.

Do the math on travel costs for an Indiana woman to obtain an abortion under HEA 1337.

In a remarkably narrow-minded attempt to undermine fetal tissue research, the law also mandates that any miscarried fetus, regardless of the stage of development, must be buried in a grave or cremated.

In response, last week a clever Facebook page called Periods For Pence was created that's encouraging women to contact the governor's office directly to express their opposition to the bill.

Indiana state rep Casey Cox
Under the guise of not wanting to be in violation of HEA 1337, in a brilliantly tongue-in-cheek fashion, women are clogging the phone lines of Governor Pence's office (317-232-4567) to share detailed updates on their periods - since women can unknowingly lose a fertilized egg without knowing it during their monthly cycle.

They're also clogging the phone lines of the office of Casey Cox (pictured left), the Indiana state representative of the 85th House District who authored the bill, (317-232-0863).

The P4P Facebook page already has 41,880 "Likes" and women are posting details of their calls to Pence's and Cox's offices as well as clever snippets.

They're not only detailed, some of them are pretty funny; here's an example of a transcript of a call to Casey Cox's office from the FB page:

Me: "Good Morning! I just wanted to let Mr. Cox know that the eagle has landed. I repeat, the eagle has landed."
Them: "Ummm...okay? Is there anything else he should know?"
Me: "I have awful cramps."
Them: (Very pleasant but desperately wanting me to shut up) "Okay I will pass that along."
Both offices seem to have brought in new people to field calls. I still miss Trace and Katie; my vag feels rejected. : /

Women are now also posting personal messages directly on Governor Pence's Facebook page asking him for detailed gynecological advice on a number of women's health issues.

Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo
According to an article last Tuesday by Katie Heinz of local Indiana ABC affiliate Channel 6, women in Poland have even picked up on the Periods for Pence social media movement and have begun bombarding the office of conservative Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo with similar calls to express their opposition to Szydlo's calls for a total ban on abortions in heavily-Catholic Poland.

An article in the UK's Independent yesterday reported that Szydlo's announcement last week about her support for a total ban on abortions prompted mass protests outside of the main government building in Warsaw.

Polish women have also begun using the Twitter hashtag #TrudnyOkres (which translates to "tough period") to share details on their menstrual cycles with Szydlo and express their support for abortion rights.

Back in Indiana, it's once again remarkable to watch conservative Republican male politicians who are neither gynecologists or experts on women's reproductive health draft draconian anti-abortion measures so restrictive as to undermine the right to abortion affirmed by the Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade.

HEA 1337 falls far outside the boundaries of mainstream thinking on abortion and women's reproductive rights; and during a critical phase of the presidential campaign season, it also reflects the kind of contempt that many Republicans have for women and the law could end up boosting support for Hillary Clinton.

As I mentioned the social media reaction to the law has been swift, and in a year in which he's up for re-election, Governor Mike Pence seems to be once again alienating female voters by spending his time trying to use the state's legislative process and responsibility to turn extremist conservative dogma into law.

Mississippi Republican Gov Phil Bryant
It's the latest example of this ideologically-dangerous combination of a majority-Republican state legislature and a Republican state governor working together to pass the kind of legislation that is not reflective of what the vast majority of Americans think, or support - we've seen this in Kansas, North Carolina and other states as well.

Earlier this week, Republican Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a similar law permitting people to discriminate against LGBT citizens in the name of protecting the rights of people's "religious freedoms"; Tennessee is trying to pass a similar law in an effort to undermine the Supreme Court's affirmation of same-sex couple's right to marry.

It's an illusion.

Backed up by voter repression and gerrymandering intended to create conservative majorities where they don't actually exist.

It's also an example of Republican hypocrisy with regards to their incessant whining about the dangers of "Big Government" that were so prevalent during the legislative fight to pass the Affordable Care Act.

If there's a more textbook example of government overreach than Indiana's HEA 1337, I don't know what it is.

But like the dizzying array of Republican-backed gun rights legislation passed by state legislatures around the nation, Indiana's anti-abortion law demonstrates that Republican outrage over excessive government intrusion is situational at best.

No comments: