Writer Margaret Atwood revealed Friday that she initially stopped writing her terrifying dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale” because she thought it was “too far-fetched.” But after the Supreme Court opinion draft leaked, she will never feel the same again.
“Fool me. Theocratic dictatorships don’t lie only in the distant past: there are many of them on the planet today. What’s to stop the United States from becoming one of them?” she asked in a column published Friday in The Atlantic.
In Atwood’s novel, women are used as reproductive slaves in America, governed by a democratic dictatorship strictly directed by men. Atwood’s model was based on 17th-century New England Puritan religious rules and jurisprudence—and was imported to America.
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito also turned to the 1600s to justify his leaked opinion, which would influence the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which made abortion legal, following Mississippi’s anti-abortion law. was beyond the issues raised in the challenge. He cited several times the English jurist Matthew Hale, who opposed abortion – and killed “witches”.
The leaked opinion (which has not been finalized) “would overthrow 50 years of settled law on the grounds that abortion is not mentioned …. to a large extent,” Atwood acknowledged. “The Constitution has nothing to say about the reproductive health of women. But there is no mention of women in the original document.
Women were “deliberately excluded from suffrage,” he said, referring to the fledgling nation. Only men would no longer be taxed “without representation” or ruled without “consent”. Women were barred from voting until 1920.
Atwood quipped, “Women in American law were non-persons for much longer than individuals.” “If we start overthrowing established law using Justice Samuel Alito’s justification, why not annul the vote for women?”
As far as banning abortion is concerned, beliefs about when life begins are based on personal or religious beliefs (for example, some religions believe that life begins at birth or The life of a pregnant woman is the existing life that must be preserved).
Now, in Alito’s opinion, “what is a sin within a certain set of religious beliefs should be made a crime for all,” Atwood wrote. Yet the Constitution demands that “Congress shall make no law with respect to the establishment of religion or with respect to the prohibition of the free exercise thereof.” If one religion allows abortion, how can a different religion prohibit it for people with different beliefs?
“It should be simple: If you believe in the ‘spirit’ at conception, you should not have an abortion, because doing so is a sin within your religion. If you do not believe so, you must – under the Constitution – should not be bound by the religious beliefs of others,” Atwood argued.
Atwood said, “Alito opinion” looks well on the way to the establishment of a state religion, and dates back to the 17th century, when colonial women were burned at the stake based on religious evidence.
Atwood warned, “If Justice Alito wants you to be governed by the laws of the 17th century, you must take a closer look at that century.” “Is that when you want to live?”
View the full column here.