The Overturning of Roe v. Wade is Not the Handmaid’s Tale

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In her critically acclaimed novel, which was later adapted into the Hulu show, “The Handmaid’s Tale”, Margret Atwood depicts a horribly sad and gruesome dystopia that political activists on the left are convinced is now reality since the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.

Is this reality? Are we now living in a dystopian nightmare brought out of a writer’s head and now on full display by the highest court in the land? Or is the left using a pop culture tool to sway opinion and drive division?

Let’s dive in.

The Handmaid’s Tale

Let us briefly explore the type of reality described by Atwood in “The Handmaid’s Tale”. In both the novel and the show, the story’s setting takes place in an America newly named the Republic of Gilead after the overthrow of the United States government by a terrorist organization called “The Sons of Jacob”. These terrorists were spurned into action due to the horrifyingly low birth rates experienced globally due to “environmental pollution and radiation”. The television show spends more time extrapolating the origin of this pollution and radiation in a place called “The Colonies”. There is a great deal of speculation as to how the Colonies arose. Though it could be assumed that nuclear warfare or nuclear power plants are the primary culprits as radiation poisoning and toxic waste are repeatedly referenced, as are their adverse side effects (loss of hair, nails, and teeth, skin becomes raw, and death). Even more significantly, this proximity to radioactive sights has caused an extraordinary number of people to experience infertility. With such low birth rates, it isn’t surprising that people began to act out irrationally and violently. From a particular perspective, the whole existence of the human race was now being threatened.

This dystopian nightmare is made worse by the power grab that is taken by the Sons of Jacob. By establishing the Republic of Gilead, they also establish a new caste system. People dress in a variety of different colors based on their roles in society. Commanders, the male rulers of this dictatorship, are often seen in black suits. Their wives, who are not as powerful, being women, but still hold a great deal of power in their own right, dress in blue. Martha, the servants of the household, dress in green and are often considered to be past their childbearing years or otherwise infertile. And, of course, the most recognizable characters are the Handmaids themselves, who are dressed in a red dress and a curved white bonnet.

The role of the handmaid is both simple and horrifyingly monstrous all at once. Being fertile women, they are to be forced surrogates for Commanders and high-ranking men. There is no nice clinical surrogacy here in this regime – it is surrogacy by force of rape from the Commanders. The wives are forced to bear witness to the rape of their handmaids.

This dystopian nightmare, as we can see so far, is littered with a great deal of Biblical symbolism. The idea of a handmaid to be used in this way can be seen in Scripture when Rachel, after failing to bear children of her own, gave her handmaid Bilhah to her husband Jacob. After Bilhah had conceived two sons by Jacob, Rachel claimed them as her own. Thus, in the Handmaid’s tale, we can see this same scene take place in a horrifying ritual where the Commander reads this passage from Scripture, rapes the handmaid, and, if a child is born, the child is taken from the handmaid and placed in the care of the Commander’s Wife.

What Does the Overturning of Roe Actually Mean?

Let’s begin by defining what Roe v. Wade actually established. Norma McCorvey, aka “Jane Roe”, wanted to seek an abortion for her third unwanted child (the previous two having been given up for adoption.) Feminist lawyers, Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington, took up McCorvey’s case, and the case of many other women who were seeking abortions. This ultimately became a class-action lawsuit that was brought before the Supreme Court of the United States. In their landmark ruling, SCOTUS claimed that “a person may choose to have an abortion until a fetus becomes viable, based on the right to privacy contained in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Viability means the ability to live outside the womb, which usually happens between 24 and 28 weeks after conception”.

What is particularly interesting about this ruling is that the Fourteenth Amendment, which states that “no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law” is the exact protection for the unborn child in the womb, not a means by which a person can kill said child.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

In Roe v. Wade, the SCOTUS did what it did not have the power to do – make abortion the law of the land. The Supreme Court is just that, a court. It has no power to make laws, only to determine how the law should be used and whether or not it was used appropriately. In the case of Roe v. Wade, the justices at that time not only discovered a “right to abortion” beneath the “penumbras and emanations” of the Constitutions (for you non-legal nerds out there – a penumbra is a shadow and an emanation is a light from which a shadow is cast). In other words, they created it out of whole cloth.

Fast-forward to 2022. The current SCOTUS realized this egregious error of past courts and, rather than allowing a bad ruling to stand for the sake of stare decisis (latin for “to stand by things decided”, which is the legal the doctrine in which courts adhere to precedent when making decisions), they overturned a poorly ruled case and upheld the Mississipi abortion law in question (a ban on abortion after 15 weeks) in the ultimate decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization

Effectively, what this does is place the decision on abortion back where it belongs – in the hands of the people. More left-wing states, like New York and California, will not even feel a difference. Since their state laws uphold abortion up until the moment of birth (though many are even vying for partial birth abortions), the women in these states will not experience any change. The difference comes in more conservative states who seek to protect life. Thirteen of these states had “trigger laws” on the books, which was a move to outright ban abortion the moment that Roe v. Wade was overturned.

Thus, the over-ruling of Roe v. Wade does not end abortion entirely. Instead, it allows states to decide for themselves whether or not they want to have abortion and, if they chose to make abortion legal, to what degree it would be upheld.

Are We Living in a Handmaid’s Tale?

I can assume that you have already guessed now that we are not living in a Handmaid’s Tale. While fertility rates are decreasing globally (2.4 children are born per woman globally), we are nowhere near the catastrophic decline experienced by the people in the novel. Nor are we currently being ruled by a dictatorship that is falsely representing and weaponizing their own personal interpretation of religion as a means to cudgel women into accepting forced surrogacy. In fact, the only opportunity you will have to see someone dressed in a handmaid’s outfit is if you go to Washington, D.C. and visit the protestors who are violently opposing the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

So, if this Supreme Court decision did not actually create the new Republic of Gilead, how did this comparison get started.

After much consideration, I believe this argument stems from two places: women’s autonomy and religion.

In left-wing circles, many will justify abortion as a part of a woman’s “autonomy”, that she has a right to chose what to do with her own body. However, they make this argument without ever addressing the woman’s body itself. In fact, the woman’s body is not something that is in question in abortion – it is the baby’s body. It is the baby’s body that is ripped from the womb, limb by limb. It is the baby’s body that is pumped with toxins so they die before they can even enter the womb. If these pro-abortionist activists were so interested in what women did with their bodies, would they not argue instead that women should make smart decision before having sex? That maybe they should invest in contraception? Or not participate in hook-up culture? These are all decisions a woman makes for herself. A natural consequence of having unprotected sex is that it creates a baby.

However, left-wing activists do not see things from the perspective of reality. They believe that since the baby is sharing resources with the mother, is living inside the mother’s womb temporarily, that they have the right to evict the baby through an aggressive process that ends in the loss of life. It is their right in bodily autonomy to kill the child living within. By overturning Roe v. Wade, they believe that this is similar to the control exerted by the Republic of Gilead. In the Republic of Gilead, woman actually have no bodily autonomy. They cannot chose where to go, what to eat, or even who they have sex with. In the Republic of Gilead, women are, essentially, property to powerful men.

Is that really what is happening in these states where abortion is no longer legal?

Obviously, the answer is no.

Women in every state in America can still chose what to do with their body. They can chose to have sex or not to have sex. They can chose to participate in hook-up culture or they can wait for a good and just man who will stick around and be willing to be an equal partner in marriage. Women who do get pregnant can choose to keep their child or give the child to a loving family who is more financially stable and more prepared to love the child in the way that the woman may not want to.

What the woman cannot choose, however, is murder.

So what about the religious argument? Is the left correct in that the overturning of Roe the false weaponization of the Christian faith? That the justices only overturned the previous ruling because they believe God told them to?

This argument does not hold water for two reasons: Roe v. Wade was overturned because it a bad ruling, and religion is being used to control women’s bodies

Let’s deal with the first. I encourage everyone to go and read the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision for themselves. The court found that the original Roe v. Wade decision was an egregious error on the part of the court in that time. To quote directly, “Like the infamous decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, Roe was also egregiously wrong and on a collision course with the Constitution from the day it was decided.” No where in the entire over 200 page document can you find a justification for their ruling on the basis of faith. Similarly, states who have enacted abortion bans have not put their bans in place on the basis of faith either. Remember, the Fourteenth Amendment states that “no state shall deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law”. An unborn child cannot argue for itself, because it cannot speak. An unborn child cannot receive due process until it has entered into the world. Thus, many states have argued that law, not faith, protects the lives of these pre-born children. No Senator has whipped out a Bible and started declaring that fertile women need to submit themselves for insemination. No Congressman has demanded that other woman bear him children. Instead, these political actors are simply seeking to protect the right, without which, no other right matters – and that is the right to life.

Take Off the Bonnets

Margret Atwood’s novel is powerful in many ways. She depicts a dystopian future in which we struggle to survive just as a human race. She shows us what power in the wrong hands can do. She shows us that evil people will do evil things and take advantage of any situation to meet their goals. Atwood even goes a great length to show us just how precious newborn life is. “Our happiness is part memory. What I remember is Luke, with me in the hospital, standing beside my head, holding my hand, in the green gown and white mask they gave him. Oh, he said, oh Jesus, breath coming out in wonder” (Chapter 21). A loving husband and wife come together to create new life is meant for celebration, not a sterile room prepared for slaughter. However, Atwood also balances this celebration with the hardness of a dystopian society in which women have been suppressed and made into slaves.

Instead of dressing in red robes and white bonnets to lament the overturning of bad judicial precedencies, can we not instead celebrate? Celebrate that the power has been returned to the states. Celebrate the fact that we do not, indeed, live in the Republic of Gilead but the United States of America? Us women are not slaves – we are free! We are free to chose how to live our lives, who to love, who to marry, who to bear children with.

The only difference is, in some states, we are no longer free to kill.

If anything, I believe that mades us certainly more free than we were before. New young girls will be born every day. They can make their own life decision and take on this world better and stronger than ever.

“But you’re forgetting,” some may say. “Now some women will have to carry the child of their rapist.”

Yes. This is a sad reality. While we do not live in the Republic of Gilead, that does not mean that rape will not happen. While we do not have state mandated rape (rape is, of course, illegal in all states), rape still happens. And pregnancies occur because of that rape. Women still experience horrific trauma because of this.

But, let us pause for a moment.

In the midst of such suffering, could a woman not celebrate that she can bring forth a life in the midst of darkness? That the man, who only brought death and destruction, could be totally owned by her raising the child up to be better, braver, and kinder than the evil doer? Or, if the toll is unbearable, could she not give her child up for adoption, knowing that a family was created, despite the suffering that was intended? If our nation does not put rapists on death row, why should we put babies under the knife? Why should the daughter pay for the sins of the father?

The answer: she shouldn’t. No child should.

So take a deep breath. Calm down. Take off the robes. You still have a choice. You don’t live in the Republic of Gilead. No one is forcing you to have sex. No one is forcing you to bear children. And, if you still feel the need to slaughter unborn children, go to California or New York.

Let the rest of us who want to live, live in peace.

Published by Jessica Holmes

The truth, like cacti, can sometimes cause discomfort. Background cactus for #Verdict with Ted Cruz, Michael Knowles, and Liz Wheeler. Western Conservative Summit 2022 Speaker. DAP Contributor. Educator.

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