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  • June, the protagonist in the Hulu series, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ is taken into custody. She is a breeder. (Photo: Hulu)

    Margaret Atwood’s dark, dystopian, novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale” is being overtaken by reality.

    Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling legalizing abortion nationwide, the country has become a patchwork of laws, many draconian, restricting a woman’s reproductive rights.

    The parallels to Atwood’s book are striking.

    She portrayed a patriarchal, white supremacist, theocracy. Women are the lowest-ranking class and are not allowed to own money or property, or to read and write.

    Most significantly, women in the fictional nation of Gilead have no control over their lives or their bodies. All power rested with so-called male “commanders.”

    The United States Constitution is suspended, newspapers are censored, and what was formerly the nation’s representative democracy becomes a military dictatorship.

    Kate Cox. (Photo courtesy of her family)

    The scenario isn’t far off from the vision put forth by demagogues like Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller and Gen. Mike Flynn, They’re acolytes for a white, conservative, christian nation based on the Bible.

    Donald Trump, who is seeking the GOP 2024 presidential nomination, is the vehicle they hope to use to impose their draconian new order on the nation.

    Trump and his allies are already laying the groundwork for a possible second Trump presidency, forging plans for an even more extreme agenda than his first term, according to The New York Times.

    “Beneath these public threats is a series of plans by Mr. Trump and his allies that would upend core elements of American governance, democracy, foreign policy and the rule of law if he regained the White House,” The Times reports.

    In a striking turn, women are already feeling the boot of subjugation on their necks mostly in southern states that have sharply restricted, banned, and, in many cases, criminalized abortion.

    Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, a legal standard for half a century, 14 states have outlawed and criminalized abortion, according to The Center for Reproductive Rights.

    Another 10 states have enacted laws that are hostile to abortion, including six-week bans, while 11 states have preserved and in some cases expanded abortion rights. The rest fall somewhere in between.

    Texas dramatically illustrated the social and political dangers of this hodgepodge.

    Kate Cox, 31, a Dallas resident was about 20 weeks pregnant when her doctor gave her some bad news. Her fetus was suffering from Trisomy 18, a genetic condition with slim to no chance of survival outside the womb.

    About half the fetuses with trisomy 18 are born alive. Those who make it that far can live between two days and two weeks, according to medical references.

    Carrying the fetus to term would also present complications that threatened her life and her ability to have more children in the future.

    Under Texas law, doctors are prohibited from performing abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually six weeks into a pregnancy. That includes the use of abortion-inducing medications like mifepristone and misoprostol.

    Doctors face felony first degree murder charges and life in prison for performing an abortion where the fetus dies. Women could be subject to civil suits.

    The law provides narrow exceptions, such as “substantial impairment of major bodily function”of a pregnant woman.

    Cox, a mother of two, sued the state and won a restraining order to prevent Texas from enforcing its strict abortion ban. That allowed her to get an emergency abortion, because of the nature of her fetus’s illness and the threat it posed to her life.

    But hard-right Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton intervened and appealed to the Texas Supreme Court. In a ruling that stunned the nation, the high court denied Cox’s request.

    The all-white, all-Republican court court found the legislative exception to Texas’s abortion ban did not encompass Cox’s condition because she had not shown it was sufficiently “life threatening.”

    She finally left the state to terminate her non-viable pregnancy.

    But the reaction since then has been scathing.

    New York Attorney General Letitia James and a coalition of 11 attorneys general released a statement yesterday (Dec. 14) saying abortion decisions must remain between a patient and doctor.

    “No one should be forced to fight in court and leave their home state just to receive the health care they need,” the statement said.

    As this case shows, abortion bans pose dangerous health and safety threats wherever they are enacted.

    “We will continue to fight to ensure everyone has the freedom to make their own reproductive health care decisions.” 

    In New York state abortion is legal until “viability,” which means the fetus has developed enough to survive outside the uterus with medical help. A doctor can also take into account how the fetus is developing and the life and health of the mother.

    Nonetheless, the abortion battle continues across the state and country.

    James was successful earlier this month in obtaining a court order to stop a militant anti-abortion group from blocking access to reproductive health care clinics in 13 New York counties.

    Following the Roe decision, James also launched a pro bono legal hotline to provide legal support to patients and healthcare providers nationwide. Voters in several restrictive states have also been able to place initiatives on the ballot to protect womens’ reproductive rights.

    But the fight is far from over, and could intensify if Trump is elected president.

    Trump has said he would use the Justice Department to have his adversaries investigated and charged with crimes. He vowed in June to appoint “a real special prosecutor to go after” President Biden and his family. He later declared in an interview with Univision that he could, if someone challenged him politically, have that person indicted, according to The Times.

    In one of his more chilling promises, Trump said he is planning to round up millions of undocumented immigrants and create massive detention camps to hold them, unlike anything seen outside Nazi Germany.

    Even those who have been here for years or decades and are fully assimilated would be vulnerable.

    Trump has also said he intends to unilaterally send troops into Democratic-run cities to enforce public order, a move that smacks of the police state described in Atwood’s novel.