Is Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale a new reality in America?

The new Texas abortion-ban is said to be the beginning of a war on women.

Women dressed as handmaids stand outside of a legislative building advocating for the my body my choice movement and protesting the Heartbeat Bill.

Women dressed as handmaids stand outside of a legislative building advocating for the “my body my choice movement” and protesting the Heartbeat Bill.

Makayla Bech, Staff Writer

Beginning on September 1st, 2021, the state of Texas enacted the “Heartbeat Bill.” This bill restricts women from having abortions once there is a heartbeat detected through ultrasound. An aerobic rhythm is usually found in an embryo six weeks into a pregnancy, which is usually before a woman even knows that she is pregnant. Governor Greg Abbot signed Senate Bill 8 into effect in Texas, making this the most restrictive abortion ban known to the United States.

Citizens nationwide have taken to the streets to express their anger with this new Texas law. People are infuriated at this new legislation and find it to be a repeat of ancient history and a war on women. In fact, many have equated the recent political action to the events described within the New York Times bestseller, The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. The events depicted within this novel describe a society in which women have mere to no rights and “handmaids” or in the phrase that society has taken, sex slaves, are brutally raped each month during their fertile window and used to carry a child that will be stolen from them and given to a barren family. One of the main aspects as to why this is such a great comparison to many is due to the fact that the Texas law is not liquidated towards victims of rape whom become pregnant. If the victim does not know that she is pregnant within a six week period, she is forced to carry a child of rape, causing for her to experience an increased amount of trauma and fear. This, too, leads into the factor of what the mother will do with the child once it is born. For if the victim gives birth to a child resulting from rape, the mother is forced to bring a child into the world that is wearing the face of a rapist, which is obviously going to carry a lot of emotional abuse onto the mother. This issue was brought up to Governor Abbot and he responded to the concern by stating that it will be his duty to the community of Texas to “remove rapist from the streets.” This again spiked arguments by people reporting that many rapist live in the homes of young girls and disgustingly enough 37% of rape victims claim that their father or grandfather assaulted them.

Another great factor that leads into the arguments of many protestors is the fact that many women who do practice their right to an abortion usually have underlying health issues that prevent them from surviving a pregnancy. For example, severely overweight or underweight women risk death if they are to carry out a pregnancy. According to the Mayo Clinic, having a high body mass index increases “the risk of miscarriage, stillbirth and recurrent miscarriage.” Obesity can also include many risks to be faced once the baby is born including “impaired growth” and “childhood asthma.” These are all risks that women are now forced to face in the case that they do become pregnant, for they are prevented from saving their own lives and the health of a child. Further, the financial aspects are a huge complication when it comes to the health visits that a pregnant women needs to have a safe pregnancy, the hospital stay, food and clothes for the baby, and shelter. The list could continue for ages. Therefore, the question that many take into consideration is that if a woman is not allowed to get an abortion and does not have the funds to raise a child, are there any ways that the government can assist? The answer can vary. There are many organizations run by churches and non-government funded foundations that help expecting mothers to get back on their feet and even provide for the child once it is born. However, as for help from the government, there are minimal sources. Many of the children born from mothers that would have gotten an abortion end up in the foster care system or become homeless. A main issue that people are running into is the fact that doctors can be sued by regular citizens if it is found that they went through with an abortion if the fetal heart rate was detected. Despite these strict rules, there are exceptions when it comes to medical emergencies. The rules are unclear on whether or not patients with a fatal diagnose such as cancer are eligible for an abortion; however, women that are admitted with certain conditions such as an ectopic pregnancy. An ectopic pregnancy is when a “fertilized egg implants outside the uterus” (New York Times). Another emergency condition that allows for an abortion is HELLP syndrome, which is “a severe variant of pre-eclampsia” (New York Times). Both of these conditions can be detected fast and rather early stages within a pregnancy and are therefore deemed emergencies under the law. It is ultimately up to the doctor what qualifies a patient for an emergency abortion, but it is risky business due to the fact that a doctor can be sued if they are found to have performed an unnecessary abortion.

In fact, even the president is opposed to this law and has made it clear to the nation that he believes that the law is a clear violation of the Constitution in relation to freedom of religion and that it is violating the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade. Roe v. Wade is Supreme Court case that was settled in 1973 with a 7-2 vote where the 14th Amendment protects women’s right to decide if they want to go through with a pregnancy or not, whereas this new Texas law is said to be invalidating due to the fact that it is eliminating the right for a women to choose. The Texas governor based the passing of the Heartbeat Bill solely off of his religion, where he believes that God has blessed a woman with a child and he deems that it is simply murder if a women is to abort her pregnancy. However, there is a great majority of the American population who do not practice the Christian faith and even if they do, they do not oversee abortion as being an offense to God. The United States president, Joe Biden, is a devoted Catholic and still believes that women have the right to an abortion simply because it is not the government’s right to have control over women’s bodies. Biden believes that the Heartbeat Bill is a violation of the 14th Amendment and plans to fight with Texas and remove this law from legislation.  People believe that this bill is the beginning of many more legislation that is diminishing the rights that women have over their personal autonomy and what is infuriating women even more is that these bills are being officiated by men.