Margaret Atwood says the Supreme Court is making The Handmaid’s Tale a reality in the U.S.
In the leaked Supreme Court draft that reverses Roe v. Wade, Justice Alito defends the majority opinion by saying the Constitution does not mention abortion. But the constitution doesn’t mention women at all. When it was written, women were considered the property of white male landowners, the only people who counted in America at the time. That means the Supreme Court can make any ruling it wants to take away women’s rights, says Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale.
In her essay in The Atlantic, she says the ruling is dragging America in the direction of Gilead, the fictional post-America society run by theocratic authoritarians in her novel.
The Alito opinion purports to be based on America’s Constitution. But it relies on English jurisprudence from the 17th century, a time when a belief in witchcraft caused the death of many innocent people. The Salem witchcraft trials were trials—they had judges and juries—but they accepted “spectral evidence,” in the belief that a witch could send her double, or specter, out into the world to do mischief. Thus, if you were sound asleep in bed, with many witnesses, but someone reported you supposedly doing sinister things to a cow several miles away, you were guilty of witchcraft. You had no way of proving otherwise.
Similarly, it will be very difficult to disprove a false accusation of abortion. The mere fact of a miscarriage, or a claim by a disgruntled former partner, will easily brand you a murderer. Revenge and spite charges will proliferate, as did arraignments for witchcraft 500 years ago.
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May 13, 2022 at 10:45AM