The Handmaid’s Tale trended on Twitter on Tuesday night following the widely publicised vote on Alabama’s abortion bill.
The bill would ban abortion almost outright, and is the most restrictive abortion law in the country. Called HB314, the bill makes abortion a Class A felony and attempted abortion a Class B felony.
As it passed in Alabama’s Senate 25-6 on Tuesday night, Google Trends shows a 75 per cent increase in searches for The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel that portrays a world in which women are raped by powerful husbands whose wives are unable to conceive and forced to bear their children.
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“You know in The Handmaid’s Tale flashback scenes where everything still feels kind of normal but they start dropping small hints that shit is starting to go very wrong very soon?” wrote author Rita Meade in a tweet. “We’re in that part right now but with REALLY BIG F***NG HINTS.”
The novel was adapted for television in 2017 and is entering its third season on Hulu this summer.
As Republican lawmakers attempt, and succeed, to pass more and more abortion restrictions, dressing in the distinctive red cloak and white hat worn by the handmaids in the novel and its TV show has become a common tactic among pro-choice protesters.
Many on Twitter specifically pointed out that the 22 senators who voted against an amendment to the bill which would have allowed for abortion in cases of rape and incest were white men.
The amendment, which one Twitter user called “draconian,” did not pass.
Senator Kamala Harris also noted the Atwood connection, specifically calling upon the comparisons in an email from her presidential campaign.
“This isn’t a scene from The Handmaid’s Tale,” she wrote in a fundraising email. “This is happening in Alabama — in our country — in the year 2019.”
On Twitter, Margaret Atwood has been supportive of the efforts for abortion rights that reference her work. She has not yet spoken about the passage of HB314, which still must be signed by Alabama’s governor Kay Ivey.
After she signs it, the bill will still take at least six months to go into effect, meaning that abortion in Alabama remains legal for now.
The bill was crafted to be taken to higher courts in one of many efforts to take down Roe v Wade, and the ACLU of Alabama has already announced its plans to sue.
Although many of the restrictions in The Handmaid’s Tale feel like they’re within grasp, many online pointed out that the differences between the book and reality are still wide. In Ms Atwood’s novel, the fictional society of Gilead – formerly known as America – pass their restrictive laws after a violent overthrow of the government.
In Alabama, the law passed only after an uproar following a Republican attempt ignore legislative rules. The blatant run for the law’s passage was taken in stride by the few senators voting against it.
As Democratic state senator Vivian Figures told her 25 Republican colleagues who ultimately voted in the law, “You all are going to get your way, but at least treat us fairly and do it the right way.”