Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” is about a dystopian near-future where the American government has been taken over by Christian fundamentalists, who control every aspect of women’s bodies. For some women in Texas, that premise is a little too close to reality.
A group of women turned out to the Texas state capitol building on Tuesday, wearing the red cloaks and white bonnets of the show’s handmaids. They were protesting several anti-abortion bills being considered by the state legislature that could have a major effect on women’s rights.
In the world of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” the outfits designate handmaids, or fertile women forced to bear children for the wealthy and powerful. As tweets from the capitol in Austin, Texas, showed, the protesters stood in a circle, carrying signs that created a timeline of incremental rollbacks of abortion rights reaching all the way back to 1977.
— Alexa Garcia-Ditta (@agarciaditta) May 9, 2017
— Chuck Lindell (@chucklindell) May 9, 2017
The bills on the Texas state legislative docket work to further weaken abortion rights, which were protected under the Constitution by the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court cases Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton. As The Hill reports, one of the Texas bills would require cut abortion providers and affiliates from receiving any state funds, while another requires women to cremate or bury aborted fetal tissue. Even though abortion is still legal throughout the U.S., several states have used similar legislation to incrementally narrow abortion rights by making it harder for women to receive them.
“The Handmaid’s Tale” is based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel of the same name, and imagines a world in which women are second-class citizens, subservient to men in all matters. But more than that, some women are held against their will and forced to give up any reproductive autonomy at all.
Plenty of people are seeing bright parallels in the show’s subject matter and the modern political climate. Donald Trump’s administration recently announced it was cutting funding to the United Nations Population Fund, a reproductive health agency, which many saw as an attack on women’s health.
And the Republican health care bill that recently passed the House of Representatives, the American Health Care Act (also referred to as Trumpcare), has been seen as damaging to women’s health care issues by allowing insurance companies to charge more for women’s health issues such as pregnancy.
Trumpcare also allows insurers to once again charge more for pre-existing conditions. Many see that as opening the door for conditions related to sexual assault, like post-traumatic stress disorder, to be treated as pre-existing conditions.