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Margaret Atwood REUTERS/Alexandre Meneghini - RTSY5HP

Pay up

Author Margaret Atwood equates Texas law restricting abortion access to modern slavery

By WITW Staff on June 5, 2017

On Saturday, acclaimed author Margaret Atwood addressed a crowd at New York City’s Book Con on as part of a panel discussing her 1985 dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale and its successful adaptation as a popular original series on Hulu. During a portion of the Q&A with the audience, Atwood was asked by a young man where America as a country can go when “it’s virtually impossible for a woman to get an abortion in the state of Texas,” and the 77-year-old did not hold back.

Set in a not-too-distant future where fertile women are rounded up and forced to bear children, Atwood’s Booker Prize nominated novel The Handmaid’s Tale and its television adaptation have struck a chord with a new generation disturbed by its unsettling parallels to the recent debate surrounding reproductive rights. While the lives of these fictional “sex conscripts” — fertile women who are kept by powerful men as sex slaves for the sole purpose of reproducing — are base and terrifying, they are at least provided for financially, a provision that is conveniently missing from the current Texas legislation. “That’s where the concern seems to cut off with these people,” Atwood described, “Once you take your first breath, [it’s] out the window with you.”

Atwood took direct aim at Senate Bill 8, legislation poised to be signed into law by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, that would place harsh restrictions on a woman’s ability to end a pregnancy and require burial or cremation of all fetal tissue. According to Atwood, she sees only two outcomes for a situation like this: women will die and orphanages will overflow. “Sometimes people have to live their dream,” Atwood said. “So, if living their dream means a lot of dead women and orphans, maybe they’re going to have to live that dream and maybe they’re just then going to have to figure out, ‘Who’s going to pay for this?'” The author went on to draw parallels to the Ceausescu era in 1960s Romania, a period during which abortion and contraception were made illegal in an attempt to forcefully increase the population.

“It is really a form of slavery to force women to have children that they cannot afford and then to say that they have to raise them,” Atwood went on to tell the audience. “If you’re drafted into the Army, the other situation in which the state seizes control of your body, at least you get three meals a day, clothing, and a place to sleep. So, if you’re going to do that to women, pay up.” Listen to Atwood’s full answer from Book Con below:

Read the full story at Mic.

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