From this week’s New Statesman:
Abortion has been legal in Romania since the fall of Ceausescu. Under his rule, it’s estimated 10,000 women died as a result of so-called illegal abortions. For post-communist Romania, legalising abortion was seen as a way to move forward from the horrors of the dictatorship. Although abortion is now legal and free, the reality of accessing the procedure is much more complex. Terminations are only available in the first twelve weeks of pregnancy, and some private clinics only offer it up to ten weeks. Meanwhile, doctors can refuse to carry out an abortion. The result is that many women with an unwanted pregnancy are unable to access their legal right to a free termination.
By coincidence, we read Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale this weekend (in two sittings: it is that good, if utterly terrifying). The Handmaid’s Tale is set in the Republic of Gilead, a theocratic military dictatorship formed within the borders of what was formerly the United States of America.
Beginning with a staged attack that kills the President and most of Congress, a Christian fundamentalist movement calling itself the ‘Sons of Jacob’ launches a revolution and suspends the United States Constitution under the pretext of restoring order. They are quickly able to take away women’s rights, and reorganize society as a militarized, hierarchical regime based on Old Testament-inspired social and religious fanaticism. In this society, human rights are severely limited and women’s rights are even more curtailed; for example, women are forbidden to own property or even read.
To our shame we had not heard of the book until we read about an upcoming TV adaption which launches on April 26th. Romania gets a mention in the epilogue as one of very few countries (beyond the fictional Gilead of the book) in which reproduction is state-controlled and women’s bodies are very much the property of the state (it was written in 1985):
The Gilead regime was not the only one to react to them at the time. Romania, for instance, had anticipated Gilead in the eighties by banning all forms of birth control, imposing compulsory pregnancy tests on the female population, and linking promotion and wage increases to fertility
For anyone aware of the real agenda of the notorious Romanian Family Coalition (which in our opinion is the subjugation of women) it does not require too huge a leap to begin drawing certain parallels between the fictional Gilead of The Handmaid’s Tale and the very real Romania the coalition would like to create.
Gilead outlawed artificial insemination and fertility clinics as irreligious
In the case of Gilead, there were many women willing to serve as Aunts..because of a genuine belief in what they called ‘traditional values’
Traditional values. We’ve heard that before too.