On Thursday, the Republican House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a partial repeal and replace of Obamacare. Democrats sang and jeered, all while insisting that people will die. But liberals on Twitter went even further — they compared the AHCA to the misogynistic dystopia depicted in Hulu’s series “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
“Instead of our bank account, they’re taking away our health insurance; and you thought Handmaid’s Tale was just a fictional story. #AHCA,” tweeted Sahaj Kohli, senior contributors editor at The Huffington Post.
Instead of our bank account, they're taking away our health insurance; and you thought Handmaid's Tale was just a fictional story. #AHCA
— Sahaj Kohli (@SahajKohli) May 4, 2017
Kohli was referring to the genesis of “Gilead,” the dystopian world of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” where women are considered the property of men, are not allowed to own money, and where a disgusting caste system forces certain women to be surrogate mothers — through rape rather than artificial insemination. This horror all begins when women suddenly lose access to their bank accounts, which Kohli associated with the AHCA.
This exceedingly tenuous connection was justified by Gina Scaramella, executive director of the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, whose op-ed in The Hill argued that the MacArthur-Meadows amendment, which lets states waive costly sections of Obamacare, would especially hurt women who have been raped.
Scaramella told the harrowing story of a 45-year-old woman who was drugged and raped, and given a prescription of post-HIV exposure drugs by her doctor. “When the woman lost her health insurance several months after the attack, she was unable to obtain new insurance due to the health care treatment she had received for the assault.”
These kinds of insurance denials due to pre-existing conditions have been a central argument against the AHCA. Some have argued that pre-existing conditions that could lead to a denial of coverage include postpartum depression, being pregnant, having had a C-section, and being a survivor of domestic violence.
But, as Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown argued, nothing in the AHCA specifically addresses sexual assault or domestic violence whatsoever. The MacArthur-Meadows amendment allows states to apply for waivers that allow insurance companies — under limited circumstances — to charge higher premiums based on personal medical histories. But states granted these waivers must also set up special high-risk insurance pools to help defray costs for these people.
Historically, some insurance plans included pregnancy as a pre-existing condition, but that did not mean any woman who was or had been pregnant would be denied insurance, simply that those applying for insurance while pregnant might not be eligible for immediate maternity or prenatal care. In the 1980s, some domestic abuse victims were denied coverage.
By 2009, all but eight states had passed laws directly prohibiting discrimination against domestic abuse victims, and by July 2014, all but six states had done so. Even if the AHCA passes the Senate (which seems unlikely, at least in its current form), insurers in 44 states will still be barred by law from considering domestic and sexual abuse a pre-existing condition.
For these and other reasons, any comparison between the AHCA and “The Handmaid’s Tale” is tenuous at best and outright propaganda at worst. But liberals invoking the misogynistic dystopia as a fictionalized version of President Donald Trump’s America are merely following the lead of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who implied that Planned Parenthood is the last line of defense against a regime of forced rape.
Here are some of the liberals echoing the woman who would be president.
Author Sarah Cooper contrasted the years 2016 and 2017 in “The Handmaid’s Tale” style.
2016 vs 2017 pic.twitter.com/bbxQdMoLIh
— Sarah Cooper (@sarahcpr) May 4, 2017
One user tweeted, “The Handmaid’s tale is real. Thanks Paul Ryan. #AHCA #Resistance.”
— Kelsey Hale (@agirlnamekelsey) May 4, 2017
A self-described journalism professor tweeted a picture of Paul Ryan and the Republican Congress with the text, “This looks like an episode of The Handmaid’s Tale — scores of white men deciding whether to give women pregnancy healthcare. #AHCA.”
— pfishh (@pfishh) May 4, 2017
An anonymous physics professor agreed. “The trouble with the GOP men is they view ‘A Handmaid’s Tale’ as an owner’s manual rather than dystopian #AHCA #2018 #Resist,” he tweeted.
— DrDinD 🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊 (@DrDinD) May 5, 2017
Emily Calandrelli, field correspondent on “Bill Nye Saves the World,” declared that “AHCA will directly punish women for their own rape / sexual assault / C-sections. Andddd we’re one step closer to the Handmaid’s Tale.”
AHCA will directly punish women for their own rape / sexual assault / C-sections. Andddd we're one step closer to the Handmaid's Tale. https://t.co/px9E2fJURN
— Emily Calandrelli (@TheSpaceGal) May 4, 2017
One user tweeted a picture from “The Handmaid’s Tale” with the caption “Live from the WH Rose Garden.”
Live from the WH Rose Garden pic.twitter.com/ASW2prWXVa
— jbperrone (@jenperrone) May 4, 2017
From the first four episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” it seems the show (and the book on which it was based) has specifically crafted a world of maximum cruelty to women that bears no resemblance to reality.
Anyone with a cursory knowledge of Christians and church history would know that while the faith has been twisted to support certain evils (like slavery), it would never condone the sorts of violence and repression depicted in the show — especially not when women are beaten for reciting scripture.
The Gilead regime is not even led by true believers, as key leaders are willing to break the rules frequently, and only make cursory connections to God and religion, not something true believers would do. “The Handmaid’s Tale” seems crafted as anti-Religious Right propaganda, where Christianity is twisted into something it could not be and science is rejected in laughable ways.
The idea that this show has any bearing on reality under President Trump merely shows how insulated liberals are in their own bubble, and how willingly duped they can be when any argument is made against the president.
Click “Load More” to see a trailer for “The Handmaid’s Tale” to see what it is these social justice warriors (SJWs) are comparing the Republican health care bill to.