Actress Alyssa Milano protested President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Sunday, dressing up as a “handmaid” from the Hulu series “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
She posted a photo of herself in the ridiculous getup, holding a sign reading “Never Kavanaugh. Never Gilead.” Milano, an actress famous for the TV show “Charmed” (1998-2006), also makes an appearance in Netflix’s new show “Insatiable.”
“Gilead” refers to the misogynistic regime in the Hulu dystopia, based on the book by Margaret Atwood. In “The Handmaid’s Tale,” religious extremists take over America, creating a society called “Gilead” in which women lose their property and their jobs, and fertile women are assigned as “handmaids” to powerful men, who rape them in order to produce children.
The not-so-subtle messaging? If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court, he will bring about “The Handmaid’s Tale,” systematically taking away women’s property rights, their right to vote, their ability to work, and then using state-mandated rape to get them pregnant.
Milano tweeted three hashtags with her photo: “Rise Up For Roe,” “We Are Not Property,” and “Stop Kavanaugh.”
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) August 19, 2018
Milano was not the first liberal to connect the abortion issue with “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Last May, pro-abortion activists compared Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare with “The Handmaid’s Tale,” because the GOP bill would defund Planned Parenthood. In June, abortion activists dressed up as handmaids to protest a pro-life bill in Ohio. In December, they turned “The Handmaid’s Tale” into a musical, singing impeachment-themed Christmas carols outside the White House. This past January, Women’s March activists dressed in red to protest Trump near Mar-A-Lago.
Also in January, the cast and crew of the Hulu show officially announced that they had joined the “Resistance.”
As for Kavanaugh, abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America have warned that if Trump’s Supreme Court nominee is confirmed, he will overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. There is no evidence suggesting Kavanaugh would do this, and even if he wanted to, it would require the perfect case to reach the Supreme Court.
Kavanaugh is an originalist, however, which means that he holds to the original meaning of the Constitution as understood by the framers and those who actually authored constitutional amendments. Roe v. Wade rooted the right to abortion in the right to privacy, an extension of the 14th Amendment. This is absurd, because when the states were confirming the 14th Amendment, they were also tightening laws against abortion.
Even in the unlikely case that Roe v. Wade is overturned, that would not suddenly make abortion illegal everywhere. It would merely open the issue up for debate among the states. Many states would legalize abortion on demand, and many more states would allow abortion in limited cases. Whatever happens, such a system would better represent the various interests of different states.
The real threat Kavanaugh poses to abortion groups — and to liberal activists like Alyssa Milano — is his insistence on applying the law as written, rather than reinterpreting the Constitution to advance a liberal agenda. Over the past decades, liberal justices have effectively rewritten the Constitution, reinterpreting the text to suit their political agenda. Few cases illustrate this better than the 1973 Roe v. Wade case.
The extreme rhetoric of suggesting that if Kavanaugh is confirmed, then Roe will be overturned, and that if Roe is overturned, then America will become a misogynistic theocracy, is beyond absurd and offensive. “The Handmaid’s Tale” is based on a ridiculous feminist fear of evangelical Christians that would easily be debunked if they spent some time speaking with a flesh-and-blood evangelical.
Even more tragically, a January study published in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons found that 73.8 percent of women who had abortions felt unwanted pressure to kill their unborn babies. Abortion is often presented as an empowering choice, but for so many women it is the exact opposite. The real “Handmaid’s Tale” may be the abortion movement, not the pro-life one.
Even so, abortion activists continue to push this conspiracy theory. With Alyssa Milano’s blessing, the “Handmaid’s Tale” protest style will only become more mainstream. With any luck, Americans will see through the absurdity and learn to laugh at these protests.