Women Dressed Up As Handmaids To Defend Reproductive Rights In Missouri

Today in Missouri, a group of women protested in and around the state capitol dressed in a familiar costume ― the red robes and white bonnets of Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale.

According to Think Progress, the women carried signs that read, “Don’t let Missouri become Gilead” and “Gilead took credit cards, #Moleg is taking Medicaid cards,” aiming to raise awareness of lawmakers’ recent push to restrict reproductive rights.

The protest, organized in part by Planned Parenthood and NARAL, expressed concern over a budget amendment that would prevent the Missouri Women’s State Funded Health Services Program from providing funding to clinics that perform abortions.

A politician who sponsored the amendment, Rep. Robert Ross (R), claimed during a debate that it would prevent taxpayer money from supporting abortion. According to the communications coordinator for Planned Parenthood Missouri, Sarah Felts, the amendment is more dangerous than that.

“It defines abortion services really broadly. Not only providing abortion care, but just talking about it,” Felts told Think Progress. “There’s no clear definition of referring. It could just be talking about abortion as an option.”

This is just the latest women’s health-related development in Missouri, which has seen an array of proposed pro-life bills this year.

The Missouri protest followed a similar demonstration in Texas, for which participants also dressed like residents of Gilead.

The Missouri protest, however, went slightly less smoothly; earlier this afternoon, Planned Parenthood Advocates in Missouri, a group that helped coordinate the protest, tweeted, “The handmaids were forced to remove their bonnets before being allowed to watch the Missouri House.”

The Handmaid’s Tale, a 1985 novel by Margaret Atwood that’s recently been adapted into a Hulu series starring Elisabeth Moss, is about an American government that quickly becomes oppressive, taking away women’s credit cards and forcing them to work as “handmaids,” or enslaved sex workers for infertile couples.

The series showrunner Bruce Miller, and Atwood herself, have commented on the similarities between Gilead and the political climate in America today.

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