Hillary Clinton Invokes ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ in Planned Parenthood Speech: ‘Never Let Them Grind Us Down’

The former presidential candidate spoke at Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary celebration

Hillary Clinton
Getty Images

Hillary Clinton is following Planned Parenthood’s lead in acknowledging the realities of “The Handmaid’s Tale” and its relevance to current issues concerning women’s healthcare.

The former presidential candidate spoke at Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary celebration, where she received the Champion of the Century Award, and said that women’s rights were “the great unfinished business of the 21st century.”

In her acceptance speech, as reported by Entertainment Weekly, she invoked images from “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the classic novel by Margaret Atwood that was recently turned into a drama on Hulu.

“What a time it is to be holding this centennial. Just ask those who’ve been watching ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ a book I read and was captivated by years ago,” said Clinton.

She continued, suggesting not that the dystopian future depicted is near, but that it presents parallels to our world that are relevant.

“This show has prompted important conversations about women’s rights and autonomy,” she remarked. “In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ women’s rights are gradually, slowly stripped away. As one character says, ‘We didn’t look up from our phones until it was too late.’ It is not too late for us, but we have to encourage the millions of women and men who support Planned Parenthood’s mission to keep fighting.”

In a new episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale” now streaming, Offred (Elisabeth Moss) finds a message carved into a wall in her closet: “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum,” which translates roughly into, “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”

Clinton channeled this statement. “To paraphrase Margaret Atwood, ‘We can never let them grind us down,” she said.

In her speech, Clinton also brought up recent struggles with healthcare, reminding the audience that the government was currently working on a plan that could potentially be devastating for women.

“As we speak,” Clinton said, “politicians in Washington are still doing everything they can to roll back the rights and progress we’ve fought so hard for over the last century. I mean, could you believe those photos of men around that conference table deciding how to strip away coverage for pregnancy and maternity care?”

Planned Parenthood also acknowledged the relevance of “The Handmaid’s Tale” in a statement shortly before the show’s premiere.

“Shows like ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ can help educate people and spark meaningful conversations around these issues and policies,” aid Caren Spruch, director of arts and entertainment engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Many stars were in attendance at the event, including Meryl Streep, Scarlett Johansson, Shonda Rimes — who was also honored — and Chelsea Handler, who gave a special shout out to Clinton on her Twitter.