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.
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 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.”
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.
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