News & Politics

Desperate Activists Dress as 'Handmaids' to Protest Ohio Abortion Bill

Handmaids Ohio

On Tuesday, pro-abortion activists protested at the Ohio state Capitol while dressed up like handmaids from Hulu’s series “The Handmaid’s Tale.” The not-so-subtle message? Any restrictions on abortion are a slippery slope toward a misogynist dystopia where women can’t vote, work, or own assets. Oh, and a dystopia where they lose their identities and are systematically raped for child-bearing.

“SB 145 will ban the most commonly used abortion procedure in the 2nd trimester,” the abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America declared on Twitter. “#OHHandmaids are here to show the impact of abortion bans.”

Yes, a national abortion advocacy organization is pushing the idea that restrictions on abortion are not just an assault on women’s rights but a subversion of their very personhood.

Ohio Senate Bill 145 would ban dismemberment abortions, also known as dilation and evacuation (or D&E) abortions. “When thousands of human children are being torn limb from limb every year, it is incumbent on the State of Ohio to stand up and put a stop to this inhumane practice,” Ohio Right to Life President Mike Gonidakis said in a press release.

Abortion advocates argue that banning this practice would effectively rule out abortions between 13 and 24 weeks of pregnancy. Across the nation, 95 percent of second trimester abortions are performed with D&E, and about 3,000 out of almost 21,000 abortions performed in Ohio in 2015 used this method.

While the bill would outlaw D&E abortions, it would allow them in order to save the life of the mother or to avoid serious risk of “substantial and irreversible physical impairment of a major bodily function.”

The bill does not put in jeopardy a woman’s right to vote, work, own assets, or have her own identity, however. It certainly does not suggest a system where women will be raped to produce children.

“The Handmaid’s Tale” centers on the story of a woman, June, who is known as Offred (Elisabeth Moss). The name comes from “of Fred,” designating that her whole identity is to serve the Commander (Joseph Fiennes), whose first name is Fred. Following a calamity that makes most women infertile, the United States has been coopted by a movement known as “Gilead,” which removes all autonomy from women.

Gilead assigns women proved to be fertile to the position of “handmaids,” silent servants who are systematically raped to bear children. The very premise that modern America could fall to such a system is fundamentally offensive and a deliberate misunderstanding of social conservatives, who may consider a fetus to be human, but would never advocate such a misogynistic system.

Nevertheless, politicians like Hillary Clinton have warned that if Planned Parenthood loses federal funding, America will devolve into “The Handmaid’s Tale.” This Ohio protest is only the most recent such protest, with previous ones taking place in Austin, Texas, and Jefferson City, Mo.

In a Facebook Live video of the Ohio protesters Tuesday, NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio Field and Political Director Vashitta Johnson explicitly compared the pro-life bill to the “misogynistic” world of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

“Men expect women to sit back, be controlled,” Johnson said. “You control our bodies, tell us what to do. I guess that’s the significance of the handmaids.”

Does Johnson hear just how absurd that is? According to a recent in-depth abortion poll, a vast majority of women (77 percent) support abortion restrictions. Most Americans — even those who consider themselves “pro-choice” — would not allow abortion after the first three months of pregnancy, unless it were in the cases of rape and incest or to save the life of the mother.

The pro-life movement is not a bunch of old men trying to control women. Indeed, pro-life women were attacked by pro-abortion women at the Women’s March earlier this year. The very existence of the Susan B. Anthony (SBA) List, a women’s organization dedicated to pro-life issues, should dispel these myths.

So what is really going on? The pro-life movement is winning. Just last year, Ohio passed (and Governor John Kasich signed) a bill prohibiting abortion after 20 weeks, joining 15 other states. Americans support restricting abortion, and grisly stories of the notorious abortionist Kermit Gosnell, along with the Center for Medical Progress sting videos against Planned Parenthood, have only strengthened the pro-life position.

Desperate abortion supporters reach for an absurd comparison to try to stem the tide of pro-life success, but in doing so they only reveal their own desperation. The argument that S.B. 145 — or any other abortion limitation bill — will give birth to the misogynistic Gilead immediately fails the smell test.

The fact that Hillary Clinton and NARAL Pro-Choice America decided to push this narrative shows just how far gone this abortion movement is. The Democratic Party is alienating its own supporters by championing the abortion movement, and stunts like this only underscore its flailing electoral position.

Click “Load More” to watch the Facebook Live video of Handmaids in the Ohio state House.

The Handmaids are in the Ohio Statehouse.

Posted by NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio on Tuesday, June 13, 2017