Nope, Hulu wasn't filming a new episode of "The Handmaid's Tale" in our nation's capital yesterday. The 30 women dressed in red cloaks and white bonnets gathered at the U.S. Capitol to protest the Republican's health care bill, which was headed to the Senate floor. In the end, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed the vote until after the July 4 recess due to a lack of support.
The activists were part of Planned Parenthood and MoveOn.org's "People's Filibuster of Trumpcare," and wore the costumes from Margaret Atwood's book to illustrate the parallel between the current administration's policies and the totalitarian dystopia portrayed in her 1985 bestseller (and the 2017 Hulu series it inspired). Similar protests have occurred elsewhere this spring.
In the book, a fundamentalist group overthrows the government and quickly takes away the rights of women. One class of women, called handmaids, are kept under tight control and forced to carry the children of upper-class couples. Critics of the GOP's health care bill—which would dismantle the Affordable Care Act, defund Planned Parenthood for one year, and allow insurance companies to opt out of covering contraception and maternity care—liken the bill's limits on women's reproductive health options to the oppressive anti-women policies in Atwood's tale.
Taylor Lorenz, senior editor and director of emerging platforms at The Hill, tweeted several images and videos of the eye-catching protest.
"We decided to dress in the 'Handmaids'-inspired costumes because the novel/television series presents a dystopia where women's bodies are not their own," one of the protesters, Planned Parenthood volunteer Elena Lipsiea of Albany, New York, told CNN. "This narrative is all too real. We want our senators and administrators to know just how serious we take their legislation and our right to health care. The costumes make a visual statement and demonstrate how seriously we take this."
Are you worried about how the Senate's healthcare bill will affect you? You can let your senator know by calling the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121.