The Handmaid's Tale

With news last week that Texas passed an incredibly strict anti-abortion law, the state of Ohio’s legislature is attempting to pass Senate Bill 145 — a similar ban on a second-trimester procedure called dilation & evacuation (D&E). Today, women involved with pro-choice organizations like the Ohio chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice flooded the legislature dressed as handmaids from The Handmaid’s Tale to visually remind people that taking away women’s rights can lead us down a dark path.

During the first reading of the proposed bill today, protesters shuffled through the building, two by two, just like in the Hulu show based on Margaret Atwood’s 1986 novel. The women sat silently in red robes and white bonnets while judiciary members heard opening statements regarding Bill 145.

Governor John Kasich has been working to repeal or negate the federal laws surrounding access to safe and legal abortions by signing over 15 laws restricting abortion since 2011. In the last six years, eight of the state’s 16 clinics providing abortion have also closed due to the laws that the Republican Governor has enacted.

Bill 145, nicknamed “the dismemberment ban,” was created to stop D&E procedures from legally being practiced in the state. The gruesome name is based on the procedure’s steps, which include dilating the cervix before using suction and other instruments to remove the fetus and placenta from a woman’s body.

While the procedure can have its drawbacks, statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that fewer than eight percent of abortions nationwide happen after the first trimester. In fact, D&E most often happens when the fetus has severe defects or in medical emergencies. It is rare that any woman uses abortion as a form of birth control.

NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio’s deputy director Jamie Miracle explained why the handmaid analogy makes so much sense when protesting such bills across the nation: “The handmaids are forced to give birth and, in so many cases, because of all the restrictions on abortion access, women in Ohio and across the country are being forced to give birth.”

Pro-lifers like Katherine Franklin, director of communications for Ohio Right to Life, claim that protests against abortion bans make light of abortion. Franklin tells that her organization is “trying to have a serious conversation” about what abortion involves. But protests persist, as it’s most important to consider the lives of all the people involved and not just the potential life of the fetus.

While there are currently seven states that ban the D&E, none of the bans are currently being practiced, as they are all being challenged in court as they go against the federal Roe V Wade law. Statistics show that, overall, abortion rates are down nationwide thanks to better access to contraceptives and reproductive health education. Reproductive policy think tank The Guttmacher Institute further reports that one of the major reasons for abortion is financial insecurity.

If this bill does get passed, it seems pretty certain that NARAL Pro-Choice and other pro-choice organizations will fight to have the ban overturned.

What do you think about bills like 145? Tell us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Hulu)