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Margaret Atwood Once Thought ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ Was ‘Too Far-Fetched.’ No Longer.


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Writer Margaret Atwood revealed Friday that she initially postpone writing her horrifying dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” because she thought it was “too far-fetched.” But after the leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion, she’ll never feel that way again.

“Silly me. Theocratic dictatorships don’t lie only within the distant past: There are quite a few them on the planet today. What’s to forestall america from becoming certainly one of them?” she asked in a column published Friday in The Atlantic.

In Atwood’s novel, women in America are used as reproductive slaves, strictly governed by a theocratic dictatorship directed by men. Atwood’s model was based on seventeenth century Recent England Puritan religious rules and jurisprudence — and imported to the U.S.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito also turned to the 1600s for justifying his leaked opinion that will gut the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling that made abortion legal, reaching beyond the problems raised in a challenge to a Mississippi anti-abortion law. He cited several times the English jurist Matthew Hale, who opposed abortions — and executed “witches.”

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The leaked opinion (which hasn’t been finalized) would “overthrow settled law of fifty years on the grounds that abortion is just not mentioned … . True enough,” Atwood conceded. “The Structure has nothing to say about women’s reproductive health. But the unique document doesn’t mention women in any respect.”

Women “were deliberately excluded from the franchise,” she added, referring to the fledgling nation. Only men would now not be taxed “without representation” or be ruled without “consent.” Women were barred from voting until 1920.

“Women were nonpersons in U.S. law for loads longer than they’ve been individuals,” Atwood chillingly noted. “If we start overthrowing settled law using Justice Samuel Alito’s justifications, why not repeal votes for ladies?”

As for banning abortion, the assumption about when life begins relies on personal or religious beliefs (some religions, for instance, imagine life begins at birth or that a pregnant woman’s life is the prevailing life that should be protected).

Now, in Alito’s opinion, “That which is a sin inside a certain set of non secular beliefs is to be made a criminal offense for all,” Atwood wrote. Yet the Structure demands that “Congress shall make no law respecting an institution of faith, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” If a faith allows abortion, how can a unique religion restrict it for those with different beliefs?

“It must be easy: In case you imagine in ‘ensoulment’ at conception, you need to not get an abortion, because to achieve this is a sin inside your religion. In case you don’t so imagine, you need to not — under the Structure — be certain by the religious beliefs of others,” Atwood argued.

The Alito opinion “looks to be well on the option to establishing a state religion,” Atwood added, and is popping back to the seventeenth century, when Colonial women were burned on the stake based on religious evidence.

“If Justice Alito wants you to be governed by the laws of the seventeenth Century, you need to take an in depth take a look at that century,” Atwood warned. “Is that when you desire to live?”

Try the full column here.

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