Activists Nod to The Handmaid's Tale to Protest Anti-Abortion Bills
Pro-choice protest at Capitol channels dystopian fiction
By Mary Tuma,
3:45PM, Tue. May 23, 2017
Cloaked in flowing red robes and white bonnets, more than two dozen activists stood outside the Capitol on Tuesday, May 23, to issue a public warning about the possible fate Texas women could face if legislators continue to attack reproductive rights.
The women were dressed to represent characters from Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, as part of a rally against the slew of anti-abortion measures proposed this session, including package bill SB 8, passed by the House last week.
Seen as a cautionary tale, Atwood's novel depicts women who are stripped of their rights, including abortion care, in a Christian theocracy. (The 1985 book has seen new life as a hit TV show currently streaming on Hulu.) The handmaids have made appearances in the Senate and House galleries during abortion-related bill debates this session – a creative and visually compelling strategy that sprung from the minds of reproductive rights advocates.
“Our reproductive freedoms are under attack and we don’t want our future to be a dystopian reality,” says Alexa Garcia-Ditta, NARAL Pro-Choice Texas’ communications director. “There’s a lot of strong imagery and parallels between The Handmaid’s Tale and what is happening in Texas and other red states when it comes to abortion rights.”
While the protesters came to focus their efforts on the cruel and restrictive SB 8, which bans the safest type of second trimester abortion and requires providers to bury or cremate fetal remains from abortion, another anti-choice bill slipped its way past the Senate last night (Monday, May 22), adding more fuel to the fire.
Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, tacked on language from his stalled SB 20 to HB 3124, a bill that deals with insurance information for doctors. Taylor’s measure bans abortion care coverage from private insurance plans and the Affordable Care Act. The legislation would force women to somehow predict pregnancy complications or unplanned pregnancy and purchase supplemental abortion coverage in advance. Pro-choice advocates say the bill will hurt low-income and minority women the hardest. If it receives final approval from the Senate it then moves to the House for consideration. The session ends Monday, May 29.