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Statehouse Protest Draws on New TV Show to Protest Bill Banning Some Abortions

photo of handmaid's tale protestors

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.”

photo of handmaids protest
Women dressed as handmaids listen to sponsors testify (Sen Matt Huffman speaking as fellow sponsor Steve Wilson looks on.)

  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


Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment. Jo started her career in Louisville, Kentucky in the mid 80’s when she helped produce a televised presidential debate for ABC News, worked for a creative services company and served as a general assignment report for a commercial radio station. In 1989, she returned back to her native Ohio to work at the WOSU Stations in Columbus where she began a long resume in public radio.