Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood slams new anti-abortion law

the handmaids tale margaret atwood anti abortion.jpg

Margaret Atwood’s bestselling book The Handmaid’s Tale may be based on a dystopian future, but the events she describes have never felt more chillingly close to the bone.

The 1985 novel, recently adapted into a critically acclaimed TV show (starring Elisabeth Moss as protagonist, Offred), takes place in Gilead, a near-future version of North America in which fertile women are forced into a life of sexual servitude and surrogacy.

And with each week bringing real-life news of yet another attempt by President Trump to dismantle women’s rights and freedoms, such as his current plan to allow employers to refuse to cover birth control, it can feel like we’re inching ever closer towards a world where the events of the book become a reality.

Now Atwood herself has spoken out against one of the newly proposed laws ringing true with the events in her book, by taking aim at anti-abortion legislation currently awaiting the final stage of approval in Texas. Named Senate Bill 8, the ruling would make it significantly harder for a woman to end her pregnancy, as well as making it a requirement for the foetal tissue to be buried or cremated. 

Read more: The real-life events that inspired The Handmaid’s Tale

Speaking on-stage at BookCon in New York City over the weekend, Atwood didn’t mince her words when expressing her feelings over the bill.

“It is really a form of slavery to force women to have children that they cannot afford and then to say that they have to raise them,” she told the audience, according to Insider.

Atwood at BookCon this weekend

Atwood at BookCon this weekend

Atwood went on to argue that if the government was going to make abortion an impossibility for women, then it should be prepared to pay for prenatal care and the “expensive delivery” of a baby, as well as health insurance and the upkeep of the child.

“That's where the concern seems to cut off with these people,” she said.

“Once you take your first breath, [it's] out the window with you.”

Elisabeth Moss stars in The Handmaid's Tale

Elisabeth Moss stars in The Handmaid's Tale

The author also took aim at the lawmakers themselves, painting a gruesome picture of how life could be if the legislation is made official.

“Sometimes people have to live their dream. So if living their dream means a lot of dead women and orphans, maybe they're going to have to live that dream and maybe they're just then going to have to figure out, 'Who's going to pay for this?’” she said.

“Who's going to pay for the orphans and the dead women? Because that's what you're going to have,” she continued.

And the author doesn’t expect anyone to take the implications of the potential new ruling lying down.

“I'm also waiting for a lawsuit that says if you force me to have children I cannot afford, you should pay for the process,” she added.

Images: Rex Features/Hulu/Channel 4


margaret atwood handmaid tale trailer.jpg

The real-life events that inspired The Handmaid’s Tale

reading to be brave.jpg

15 books that taught us to have courage and be kind


Here’s how you can (legally) watch The Handmaid’s Tale in the UK


Scientists reveal why we really love the smell of old books

The groaning book towers taking over the flat are definitely not our fault

by Amy Swales
14 Aug 2017

Step into your favourite book at one of these UK literary locations

If you're a book worm with a penchant for weekend breaks, steady yourself

by Megan Murray
10 Aug 2017

Pride and Prejudice is getting a dark, sexy and twisted TV makeover

And, yes, this TV adaptation is in excellent hands…

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Aug 2017

The 20 books that everyone’s obsessing over this summer

They’ve been selling out on Amazon all summer long

by Moya Crockett
07 Aug 2017

JK Rowling’s heartfelt tribute to Harry Potter’s Robert Hardy

Farewell, Cornelius Fudge

by Sarah Biddlecombe
04 Aug 2017

A Sweet Valley High film is coming and it’s in excellent hands

Your childhood self is pleading with mum for a ticket right about now

by Amy Swales
31 Jul 2017

10 blistering summer reads you need to read this August

Say hello to this summer’s best beach books

by Sarah Shaffi
28 Jul 2017

10 books that perfectly sum up the beauty of female friendship

A bestie and a book: what more could you want?

by Stylist
27 Jul 2017

Arundhati Roy leads Man Booker longlist, 20 years after first triumph

Expand your reading repertoire with this year's nominees

by Anna Brech
27 Jul 2017

Emoji Movie spoofs The Handmaid’s Tale – and the internet is furious

“So is that emoji being raped and forced to have babies?”

by Kayleigh Dray
26 Jul 2017