pro-choice activists wear 'the handmaid's tale' robes to the texas senate

As Texas pushes through two pieces of legislation limiting access to abortion, Margaret Atwood's chillingly prescient dystopian novel gets re-staged on the Sentate floor.

by Hannah Ongley
21 March 2017, 4:10pm

The renewed relevance of Margaret Atwood's 1985 haunting dystopian fiction The Handmaid's Tale has been much discussed since Donald Trump won the election. The book has been referred to as a feminist 1984 — which saw its own massive spike in sales after Kellyanne Conway's "alternative facts" — and depicts America as a totalitarian state in which women are simply walking wombs with no agency over their own bodies. Sound familiar?

The Handmaid's Tale has a Hulu adaptation set to premiere next month. But the oppressed cloak-clad women at its center have already arrived in present-day America — specifically, on the Senate floor in Texas, where lawmakers gleefully envisioning a sexist new world are trying to push through legislation limiting access to abortion. In the Senate chambers yesterday, a group of pro-choice activists rolled up wearing heavy red robes in homage to Offred and her fellow breeders.

The bills being considered include SB 415, which would ban second-trimester abortions, and SB 25, which would allow doctors to withhold information from pregnant women. The latter effectively allows doctors to lie to their patients if they detect a fetal anomaly, by blocking the patient's right to sue if their baby is born with a disability. Huffington Post reports that it may get a final vote as early as this week.

Earlier this month, Atwood wrote an op-ed/piece for the New York Times about her prescient best-seller's meaning in the age of Trump. "Basic civil liberties are seen as endangered, along with many of the rights for women won over the past decades, and indeed the past centuries," she wrote. Atwood has long resisted the inclination of lazy publishers to label The Handmaid's Tale "science fiction," preferring the term "speculative fiction" for its consideration of what "could really happen." Hopefully the distinction between the two genres doesn't become any more obvious. 


Text Hannah Ongley 
Image courtesy of Hulu

Donald Trump
The Handmaid's Tale