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“Forcing a woman to have a baby she can’t afford is a form of slavery”

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ author condemns the recent anti-abortion bill passed in Texas

By ELLE team  June 12th, 2017

A woman’s body is not her own. This stark philosophy is the basis of many major healthcare arguments, especially if related to abortion or reproductive care, in one of the most powerful countries in the world. The recently passed anti-abortion bill in Texas brings the US closer to the bleak dystopian societies brought to life by authors like Margaret Atwood. Her 1985 classic The Handmaid’s Tale, now a wildly successful TV show, tells the story of a society in which women have no rights and are only valued for their childbearing abilities.

Margaret Atwood, whose novel that has become increasingly relevant in the politically divisive climate in the US, condemned these archaic patriarchal laws in a powerful statement recently.

The author was a part of a panel at the BookCon 2017, where she was asked about the future of America, especially in the wake of the passing of the anti-abortion bill in Texas, which seeks to ban a commonly-used second-trimester abortion procedure. It further stipulates that doctors performing this procedure in Texas would face felony charges. This bill endangers the lives of women who will now have to resort to illegal and highly unsafe methods of abortion or suffer possibly-life threatening miscarriages. The writer declared it a form of slavery.

“I’m waiting for a lawsuit that says if you force me to have children I cannot afford, you should pay for the whole process,” she said, “They should pay for my prenatal care. They should pay for my, otherwise, very expensive delivery. You should pay for my health insurance. You should pay for the upkeep of this child after it is born. That’s where the concern seems to cut off with these people. Once you take your first breath, [it’s] out the window with you. And, 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.”

Margaret likened this legislation to one enacted in Romania in the ’60s. Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu issued a decree which made abortion and contraception illegal, in a bid to increase population in the country. The law mandated that a woman under 45 couldn’t have an abortion unless she had given birth to five children and her life was at stake. While the law was successful in the rise in population, it also resulted in the death of thousands of women and an increased number of orphans across the country.

“So, [if] that’s what you want, state of Texas, live your dream. Then we can all watch and see what that looks like, and whether you’re actually going to go as far as to force this upon women and families and not pay for any of it,” she said, “If you’re drafted into the army, the other situation in which the state seizes control of your body, at least you get three meals a day, clothing, and a place to sleep. So, if you’re going to do that to women, pay up.”