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News > Culture

Argentina: The Handmaid's Tale Author Backs Abortion Rights

  • Women in Argentina hold symbolic protest outside the senate to demand legal abortions.

    Women in Argentina hold symbolic protest outside the senate to demand legal abortions. | Photo: @apetitodelojo

Published 13 July 2018

Margaret Atwood urged VP Gabriela Michetti, a staunch detractor of legalizing abortion, to ask herself if she wants to live in a country where "half the population is enslaved."

Activists in Argentina who are are fighting for access to legal, safe and free abortions up to the 14th week of pregnancy have gained a new international ally: Canadian writer Margaret Atwood, most popular for her TV-series-adapted novel The Handmaid's Tale.  

Argentina's Senate Will Vote on Abortion Bill on August 8

In a recent letter to local newspaper UNO Santa Fe, Atwood shared her opinion on the comments made by Argentina’s Vice President and president of the Senate Gabriela Michetti regarding Atwood’s tweets, which urged the Senate to uphold women’s rights and support the legalization of abortion.

"Nobody likes abortions", Atwood said, to later warn that forcing women to carry out pregnancies to term is akin to slavery.  

“Perhaps a different way of approaching the question would be to ask, what kind of country do you want to live in? One in which every individual is free to make decisions concerning his or her health and body, or one in which half the population is free and the other half is enslaved?” she writes.

Atwood then explains her comparison saying the criminalization of abortion is the state claiming ownership of women’s bodies. “The only similar circumstance for men is conscription into an army. In both cases, there is a risk to the individual’s life, but an army conscript is at least provided with food, clothing, and lodging.”

Atwood's letter inspired women in Argentina to appear before the Senate a day later, on July 10. "We are many, we are everywhere. We are moved by love and respect." 

To Michetti’s comment that women’s ability to give birth is a gift, Attwood responded “if one chooses to have a baby... the baby is a gift, given by life itself. But to be a gift a thing must be freely given and freely received. A gift can also be rejected. A gift that cannot be rejected is not a gift, but a symptom of tyranny.”

The Handmaid’s Tale, a dystopian novel that depicts a society where women are enslaved and used for reproduction, has inspired women around the world to use its symbolism to protest patriarchy and anti-abortion laws and regulations.

In 2017 a group of women used scarlet robes and puritanical white bonnets and appeared in the Texas State Capitol as local legislators were debating a bill to restrict access to abortion


This April, during the elections in Costa Rica a group of women went to cast their ballots dressed as the enslaved women of the Handmaid’s Tale to protest misogyny.

Most recently, women in Argentina appeared before the Senate demanding the approval of the bill. “Meanwhile, the Senate hears a specialist on prostate! The debate in the lower chamber was complete. Stop embarrassing yourselves and make history. Vote #LegalAbortionNow #TheHandmadesintheSenate.”   

The Argentinian Senate is scheduled to debate and vote this August 8 on the bill legalizing abortions up to the 14th week, which was approved by the lower chamber of Congress on June 15.


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