There was a silent yet visible demonstration at the Statehouse Tuesday as a bill that would ban an abortion procedure was introduced in committee. More than a dozen women dressed as characters from a well-known dystopian novel showed up as the Senate judiciary committee considered the legislation.
They wore long scarlet robes and large white hoods that dwarfed their faces. Some were pregnant themselves. And the women sat without speaking in the front row of a Statehouse hearing room as two Republican state senators introduced the bill to ban the dilation and extraction procedure commonly used in abortions past 12 weeks of pregnancy. Jaime Miracle of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio says the women were dressed like those in the popular book and television series “The Handmaid’s Tale”, in which a militarized government strips women of their rights and freedom and requires some to become surrogates against their will.
“Just like in "The Handmaid's Tale" where women are forced to give birth without their consent, Ohio is rapidly becoming more and more where we create different classes of women ……women who have access to the abortion care they need and have choices….and women of color and low income women who just don’t have that same access.”
Katie Franklin with Ohio Right to Life, which backs the bill, criticizes the silent demonstration.
“It’s a really important conversation that needs to be had here in Ohio and across the country and unfortunately, today’s demonstration is a total distraction of that. It’s a total mockery of that.”
Franklin, who is 28 weeks pregnant herself, says it’s difficult for think about the abortion procedure that she describes as “dismemberment.”
“I think the important take away is that dismemberment abortions are happening nearly three thousand times every year in Ohio.”
None of the women who were dressed as handsmaids spoke at the hearing because it was sponsor testimony only. But NARAL’s Miracle says she thinks their mere presence made an impact.
“Sometimes the most powerful protest is the silent protest.”
The “Handmaid’s Tale” protest has also been used by abortion rights groups in Texas and Missouri in the past