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A Group of Handmaids Sat in Chilling Silent Protest of an Ohio Anti-Abortion Bill

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum.

Over the weekend, Hulu sent women dressed as Handmaids out into Los Angeles in a live, awesomely creepy Emmy campaign. This wasn’t the first time they’ve enlisted roaming advertising. They’ve sent Handmaids into the streets before, maybe most notably in Austin during SXSW just before the show first aired. Given how very realistic the show feels to most viewers, seeing these silent women in red walking through the world, is jarring and disturbing, but super engaging: no doubt, just what Hulu is going for.

Today, though, a group of Handmaids entered the Ohio Statehouse, for reasons that had nothing to do with marketing or Emmys. They’re there with NARAL Pro-Choice to silently sit in protest of the hearing on Senate Bill 145, the “Dismemberment Abortion Ban.”

Ohio legislators have passed a number of anti-abortion bills recently, including a fetal heartbeat bill that was vetoed by the governor. (That bill would have banned abortions after about six weeks. Another bill, which he signed off on, outlaws abortions after 20 weeks.)SB 145 would ban abortion by dilation and evacuation, the most commonly used abortion method after the first trimester. According to rep in a video

SB 145 would ban abortion by dilation and evacuation, the most commonly used abortion method after the first trimester. According to a rep in a video of the protest streamed on Facebook Live earlier today, this method is used in 95% of second-trimester abortions nationwide. Of the 21,000 abortions performed in Ohio last year, 3,000 were done using this method. In addition to targeting women, the bill would punish doctors with up to 18 months in prison, and makes no exception for cases of rape or incest.

What clearer, more timely visual, then, than these women from an all-too-realistic dystopia in which reproductive rights are a thing of the past? (Remember, we saw a similar protest in Texas last month.)

The women sat there while the bill’s sponsors (two white male senators, with six more white men and one woman co-sponsoring) testified that women need legislation to keep them safe from themselves.

We talk about how “real” The Handmaid’s Tale feels right now–both the Hulu series and Margaret Atwood’s novel–and this is why. Groups of men discussing how best to use and restrict our bodies, forcing women to give birth no matter the circumstances, taking both women and health professionals out of the conversation about women’s health: these are terrifying things happening right now. Since these men essentially want to resign women to the position of silent sexual surrogate, the Handmaid is, unfortunately, the perfect chilling, depressing, silent face for the resistance.

(featured image: Daniel X. O’Neil/Flickr)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.