A year ago, Margaret Atwood wrote “What ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Means in the Age of Trump” for the New York Times. In it, she argues about the importance of women in a society:

Because women are interesting and important in real life. They are not an afterthought of nature, they are not secondary players in human destiny, and every society has always known that. Without women capable of giving birth, human populations would die out. That is why the mass rape and murder of women, girls and children has long been a feature of genocidal wars, and of other campaigns meant to subdue and exploit a population. Kill their babies and replace their babies with yours, as cats do; make women have babies they can’t afford to raise, or babies you will then remove from them for your own purposes, steal babies — it’s been a widespread, age-old motif. The control of women and babies has been a feature of every repressive regime on the planet. Napoleon and his “cannon fodder,” slavery and its ever-renewed human merchandise — they both fit in here. Of those promoting enforced childbirth, it should be asked: Cui bono? Who profits by it? Sometimes this sector, sometimes that. Never no one.

Trump had only been in office a couple of months (and had spent much of that time on a golf course) when Hulu began broadcasting Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, which is a work of fiction. But since then, we have seen repeated attempts to control women and babies as part of his repressive regime. They have not gone unnoticed. From a February 2018 Gutmacher Institute Policy Review:

Coercive intent and practices are at the core of social conservatives’ reproductive health agenda, including virtually every reproductive health–related initiative from the Trump administration and social conservatives in Congress over the past year.

Social conservatives hold prescriptive views—rooted in both religious doctrine and political ideology—on sexuality and reproductive decision making. Generally speaking, this worldview holds, and seeks to establish as norms for society at large, that people, especially adolescents, must abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage; women’s access to contraception should be limited to certain circumstances, primarily marriage, or that contraceptive options other than fertility awareness methods are unacceptable; women should welcome all pregnancies, including those resulting from rape; and, consequently, abortion should be severely restricted or banned entirely.

The Department of Health and Human Services (what a travesty of a name today) has just issued its new guidelines for Title X family planning grants. They could have come right out of Gilead, the dystopian land of The Handmaid’s Tale.

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