Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Periods for Pence

I came across this campaign on Facebook a while ago, but it's taken on more poignancy now that Mike Pence is not merely Governer of Indiana but the future Vice President. Now renamed as 'Periods for politicians' the campaign was started when Pence, a Conservative pro-life politician, signed off new laws placing various restrictions on access to abortions in Indiana.

Campaign founder Sue Magina (a.k.a. Sue My Vagina) took affront at one law in particular. This law obliged women who have aborted a foetus, had a medical termination of a foetus, or miscarried a foetus -at any stage of pregnancy- to provide that foetus with a formal burial or cremation.

Now Magina generally objected to the invasive nature of this law, but what impressed me in particular is her metaphysical sophistication in recognising that the law is ridiculously unenforceable. It's obvious that the law has been formulated by someone with no appreciation of the facts about female reproduction at all. Because the truth is that a vast number of miscarriages occur at a very early stage of gestation and go completely unnoticed and unrecorded by the gestating female, because they are indistinguishable from a regular period. In fact, there is no sharp ontological distinction between a period and a miscarriage. You might think that fertilisation by a sperm marks such a distinction. But first of all, many women can be oblivious to this - so that there is no knowable distinction. But secondly, even fertilised eggs can fail to implant, so that a normal period follows.

Magina's genius came in her idea for a way to highlight this subtle truth about the nature of pregnancy in a way that mocked Pence's ignorance, laid bare the ridiculousness of the law and managed to be fricking hilarious into the bargain. She suggested women all over the state feign mock compliance with the law by bombarding Pences office with evidence of and details about their menstrual cycles. Thousands of women mailed in soiled tampons and dirty sanitary pads for cremation by Pence's team. They called up day and night to offer verbal accounts of their cramps and pmt......seeking advice about whether Pence thought this month's bleed might need a funeral.

Apparently Pence's stupid law got blocked by a federal judge in the end. But with this terrifying ignoramus now ascending to a position of huge influence and power, the world is more in need than ever of a humorous way to cut him down to size. I hope the campaign runs and runs.

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