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'Handmaids' Visit Ohio Statehouse to Protest Restrictive Abortion Bill

Dr. Elizabeth Yuko is the Health Editor at SheKnows. She is a bioethicist and writer specializing in sexual and reproductive health and the intersection of bioethics and popular culture. She is an adjunct professor of ethics at Fordham ...

16 Ohio women dressed as handmaids silently protest strict abortion bill

A highly restrictive abortion bill in Ohio sounds like something out of The Handmaid's Tale — so 16 women dressed for the occasion.

This afternoon, the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee heard initial testimony on Senate Bill 145, which would ban the dilation and evacuation procedure used in 95 percent of abortions after the 13th week of gestation, as well as for some miscarriages.

More: Ohio May Adopt the Most Restrictive Abortion Law in the Country

The 16 women, dressed in the red robes and white bonnets featured in Margaret Atwood's novel and recent Hulu series, sat in the statehouse chambers silently protesting what would effectively be a ban on abortions after 12 weeks — with no exceptions for rape or incest. Following testimony from bill sponsors, Republican Sens. Matt Huffman and Steve Wilson, the handmaids shuffled around the building silently in pairs. Similar demonstrations have taken place in Missouri and Texas.

Those in favor of the bill argue that the fetus can feel pain and that the procedure is inhumane. Ohio Right to Life views this bill as the next step in their plan to overturn Roe v. Wade. Those opposed point out that this is an entirely safe and legal medical procedure and that the bill is unconstitutional.

In both the book and television adaptation of The Handmaid's Tale, men are in charge of a dystopian society where childbearing women are forced to gestate and birth children.

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"The handmaids are forced to give birth and, in so many cases, because of all the restrictions on abortion access, women in Ohio and across the country are being forced to give birth," Jaime Miracle, deputy director of NARAL Pro-Choice Ohio told The Plain Dealer.

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Huffman responded to questions about the bill from other senators, saying that it's the job of the legislators to create laws — not physicians, The Plain Dealer reported. Seven other states currently have similar laws on the books, but most are on hold while they are challenged in court.

Editor's Note: The author is the niece of Ohio State Senate Minority Leader Kenny Yuko (D-Richmond Heights).

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