Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood pens furious response to Supreme Court attack on abortion

Margaret Atwood has spoken out against the US Supreme Court’s move to outlaw abortion, saying that to “enforce childbirth” is a form of “slavery”. 

On 2 May, a leaked draft opinion indicated that the Supreme Court is preparing to overturn the 1973 Roe v Wade decision to legalise abortion, following a case challenging Mississipi’s recent ban abortion ban. 

The opinion, which is not final, was penned by conservative justice Samuel Alito and described Roe v Wade as a “highly restrictive regime on the entire nation”, sparking widespread panic over whether the Court is planning to restrict abortion access in the US. 

Alito also argued that Roe is ‘unconstitutional’ as abortion rights are supposedly not “rooted in this Nation’s history and tradition”.

In an extract from Burning Questions which was edited and published by The Guardian, The Handmaid’s Tale author Margaret Atwood hit back at the Supreme Court draft, saying that to “force” someone to undergo childbirth is to “own and control another’s body”.

“If one chooses to have a baby, that is of course a different matter”, Attwood said. “The baby is a gift, given by life itself. But to be a gift a thing must be freely given and freely received. A gift can also be rejected. A gift that cannot be rejected is not a gift, but a symptom of tyranny.”

While the document is only a draft, it is currently unclear whether further drafts have been produced. The final opinion is likely to be published within the next two months, and could make abortion instantly illegal in the 22 US states that had total bans before the Roe v Wade ruling if the majority opinion remains the same. 

Attwood concluded that to deny abortions and enforce childbirth is an “extortion”, adding: “Enforce childbirth if you wish but at least call that enforcing by what it is. It is slavery.”

Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has warned that the Supreme Court draft could also impact marriage equality and civil rights as it rests on the individual’s “right to privacy”. 

President Joe Biden also expressed concern over the Supreme Court’s rhetoric and its potential to impact LGBTQ+ youth.

“What happens if a state changes the law saying that children who are LGBTQ+ can’t be in classrooms with other children? Is that legit under the way the decision is written?” he told press. 

It has not yet been confirmed whether Roe v Wade will be overturned, and the court’s decision will not be final until it is published.