- Hulu’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” returns on Wednesday with a 13-episode third season.
- The Emmy-winning show, starring Elisabeth Moss and Ann Dowd, follows a dystopian America where fertile women are forced to bear children for wealthy families.
- In an interview with INSIDER Tuesday, Dowd, who plays Aunt Lydia on the series, said the show’s silencing of women parallels the anti-abortion legislation we’re seeing across the country.
- “What you are is pro-birth. How dare you, and shame on you,” said Dowd of the men supporting the recently passed abortion bills in Alabama and other states. “Shame on you, and just for the record, we’re all pro-life. All of us are pro-life. There are circumstances and nobody, nobody wants abortion.”
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On Hulu’s third season of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” premiering Wednesday, June (Elisabeth Moss) is focused on building a resistance in a dystopia where women have been stripped of their rights and silenced. It’s a narrative that may sound all too familiar when women’s reproductive rights are currently being challenged across the United States.
“I think what’s important about ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is that it puts a face and a voice to what is beginning to happen in our country… and not just beginning,” Ann Dowd told INSIDER Tuesday in New York City.
Dowd plays Aunt Lydia, a high-ranking woman who oversees the handmaids on the Hulu series.
“When we see the control tried to be taken from women, and we see Alabama doing what it’s doing and the other states that are following [suit], it is unconscionable, and we have to fight,” said Dowd.
On May 14, the Alabama state Senate passed a bill into law that effectively outlaws abortion in the state. The law would imprison doctors who perform abortions for up to 99 years, including in the cases of rape or incest. The bill was passed by 25 white, male Republican senators.
President of Planned Parenthood, Dr. Leana Wen, called the bill the “most extreme and dangerous policy since Roe vs. Wade.” Female Governor Kay Ivey was among the legislators who signed the bill tweeting, “This legislation stands as a powerful testament to Alabamians’ deeply held belief that every life is precious and that every life is a sacred gift from God.”
Alabama joins Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, Louisiana, and Mississippi as some of the states with the most restrictive abortion bans. You can read a full list of states that have passed new abortion bans or restrictions in 2019 here. “If you can imagine men being pregnant and women telling them what to do, it’s laughable,” said Dowd on how the situation may be different if childbearing roles were reversed. Dowd then turned the conversation to speak directly towards men who consider themselves pro-life.
“The other thing is, you middle class, upper class white men, the ones who will suffer as always are the poor, the disenfranchised, and the marginalized who cannot travel to another state. How dare you call yourselves pro-life?” said Dowd. “If you were pro-life, you would get out of there and you would go to the foster care agencies and you would say, show me that children who are not loved, who have no home, who have no choice and you have no future.”
According to research organisation Guttmacher Institute, 75% of abortion patients are poor (49% of that) or low income (26%) in the US. Before Roe Vs. Wade in 1973, many women who were not affluent terminated pregnancies through less safe routes.
“When you have solved their problems and put your money where your mouth is, then go to the border and insist that those children are reunited with their families, and never allow a child to be put in a cage, that’s pro-life,” Dowd said speaking to the men who support anti-abortion legislation and controversial immigration policies.
“What you are is pro-birth. How dare you, and shame on you. And where are the teachings of Jesus that you would hear to love one another? Feed and clothe the poor. Do not judge,” she said. “Why are they put aside when it’s not convenient to your way of thinking? Shame on you, and just for the record, we’re all pro-life. All of us are pro-life. There are circumstances and nobody, nobody wants abortion. It’s not, ‘Hey, this is something to do.’ It’s not something to be taken lightly. But there are circumstances that require that decision and no one has the right to take that.”
In a response to the Alabama bill, thousands of protestors in the state, some wearing the show’s iconic red handmaid’s gown, gathered across Montgomery, Birmingham, Huntsville, and Mobile in May.
Not long after “The Handmaid’s Tale” debuted on Hulu in 2017, women began to embrace the show’s gown as protest attire. Women notably wore the outfits to protest funding cuts to Planned Parenthood in June 2017 and again at Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearings in Washington, DC, in 2018. And it’s not just here. In August 2018, women wearing red handmaid’s cloaks and bonnets marched in silence for abortion rights in Argentina.
When asked her reaction to seeing women who are utilising the show to protest, Dowd said, “I’m so proud of them. It gives me goosebumps.”
“It makes me want to kneel down in gratitude to them for having the guts to get out there. It makes me feel utterly privileged and grateful that I’m part of a show that could go from the television to the street. I could weep at the thought of it, the power in that. Come on now, beautiful,” she said.
The first three episodes of “The Handmaid’s Tale” season three premiere on Hulu Wednesday. Afterward, one new episode will roll out weekly on the streaming platform through Wednesday, August 14.
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