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The world is still in shock after leaked documents revealed last week that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v Wade, a landmark ruling from 1973 that gives women the right to abortion care.
The leaked document – a draft majority “opinion”, reportedly written by Justice Samuel Alito, suggests that the majority of US Supreme Court justices are in support of overturning the law in a vote this June.
The leak was met with outrage, with thousands of protestors gathering outside Washington and high profile figures releasing statements in protest.
Among them were Barack and Michelle Obama, Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris, all of whom called for change and impressed upon the world the importance of women’s reproductive rights.
The most recent high profile figure to speak out about the threat to Roe v Wade was Margaret Atwood, author of dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.
The 1985 novel is an iconic feminist text, depicting a dystopian world in which women’s rights have regressed following a totalitarian take over. Gilead, the state in The Handmaid’s Tale, has complete control over women and their reproductive rights, farming out fertile women to bear children due to an infertility crisis.
In short, The Handmaid’s Tale has become a symbol of state-imposed female oppression, with women across the world donning the signature red robes and white bonnet in protest of regressing rights.
Since the Roe v Wade leak, The Handmaid’s Tale has been trending once more, with people across the world voicing their fears that real life was starting to mirror the dystopian plot.
This week, it was a chilling statement from Margaret Atwood herself that made news, as an essay from her new book, Burning Questions, excerpted by the Guardian, went viral.
“Women who cannot make their own decisions about whether or not to have babies are enslaved because the state claims ownership of their bodies and the right to dictate the use to which their bodies must be put,” Margaret Atwood writes in the essay. “The only similar circumstance for men is conscription into an army. In both cases, there is risk to the individual’s life, but an army conscript is at least provided with food, clothing, and lodging. Even criminals in prisons have a right to those things. If the state is mandating enforced childbirth, why should it not pay for prenatal care, for the birth itself, for postnatal care, and – for babies who are not sold off to richer families – for the cost of bringing up the child?”
She continued: “No one is forcing women to have abortions. No one either should force them to undergo childbirth. Enforce childbirth if you wish but at least call that enforcing by what it is. It is slavery: the claim to own and control another’s body, and to profit by that claim.”
We will continue to update this story.