After Indiana governor Mike Pence signed one hell of an anti-choice law back in March, an anonymous woman created the Facebook page Periods for Pence where she encouraged other Hoosiers to call the governor’s office to report their uterine goings-on. If they had their period, they could technically be having a miscarriage and, under the new law, all fetal remains were to be cremated. The legislation would have also held doctors liable if a woman has an abortion because of a fetus’s race, sex, or diagnosis of a genetic physical disability.
A federal judge halted the law in late June saying it was likely unconstitutional. Two weeks later, Donald Trump named Pence as his running mate and the page’s creator, known only as Sue Mangina, urged people to call Trump’s campaign headquarters and the Republican National Convention. The page became Periods for Politicians and it now has more than 78,000 likes — and the creator has revealed her identity.
The Indy Star met up with Laura Shanley before a get-out-the-vote rally on Wednesday. The 39-year-old preschool teacher and former social worker who’s originally from Arkansas explained in her “sweet Southern drawl” why she initially remained anonymous.
“At the time I worked for a church that was very conservative. I left that job in May. My primary reason was general safety, which is always a concern,” said Shanley, who has a son with her husband. Close friends already knew, and so did her mother. “She calls it my ‘project.’ She’s a very proper Southern lady.” Shanley added that she’s speaking publicly now because “it’s become too important. I don’t feel right asking women to put themselves out there while I’m surrounded by this level of protection.”
As for what she’d tell Pence given the chance, she said: “I would really like to have a conversation with him. I understand why he feels the way he does. I was raised in a conservative church. I know the basis of where he’s coming from. But there has got to be a point where empathy overrides theocracy. We are adults, autonomous beings. A portion of the population thinks abortion is a mistake. I’m not saying I think that, but then you know what, adults should be allowed to make their own mistakes.”
Shanley says the page isn’t about her, though, it’s about women’s health. “I think we have had an effect in the state of Indiana,” she said. “We had enough calls that they stopped directing the calls to the governor’s office. I think they know we’re paying more attention. I think we have started that conversation about women’s health in Indiana.”
Though Pence’s extreme views have the potential to affect all American women.