Texas’ controversial abortion bill passed into law on Wednesday – and Twitter now claims the fictional state of Gilead has come to life.
The new law is now the most radical in the US and has been compared to the totalitarian rule described in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 book, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, also a popular TV series by the same name.
The near-complete ban on abortions in Texas after the fetus’ heartbeat can be detected – usually around the six-week mark – also allows any private citizen to sue an abortion provider who violates the new ruling. In Atwood’s story, abortions are completely banned and the entire female population is categorised according to their fertility, in a bid to increase the population.
Don’t worry, Texas certainly isn’t there yet.
But critics believe as the new law bans abortions after the heartbeat is heard, approximately 85 percent of procedures will be prohibited in Texas.
This is because few people with wombs know they are expecting at this point in their pregnancy.
There are no exemptions for conceptions relating to rape or incest either.
The law also introduces a minimum $10,000 (£7,300) award for those who successfully sue anyone suspected of helping an abortion go ahead – meaning members of the public become stand-ins for state officials.
This echoes the way informants are used in the Handmaid’s Tale to aid the state – a point which did not go unnoticed on Twitter.
One account claimed there were “shades of #TheHandmaidsTale” and used the hashtag #TexasIsGilead, referring to the fictional state in the novel.
Another tweeted: “This is why I couldn’t watch the Handmaid’s Tale… because I knew it could happen here. It was too close to reality and it terrified me.”
The law was passed despite pleas from pro-choice groups and the American Civil Liberties Union for the Supreme Court to temporarily block the ban. The judges did not act in time, meaning it went ahead.
Furious Twitter accounts lashed out at the Supreme Court for “standing by” as the bill went into effect.
Others joked about using The Handmaid’s Tale method of greeting – “under his eye” – and pushed back against the idea of wearing the red uniform assigned to the fictional ‘handmaids’ in the book.
Many accounts also asked for some form of action to be taken against the dramatic new ruling.
Critics have also lamented the wider implications of the bill.
Texas governor Greg Abbott has signed a trigger ban into law earlier this year which means if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v Wade at any point, all abortions in the state will become illegal.
Roe v Wade was a milestone case from 1973 which allowed women in the States to abort a pregnancy without heavy government restrictions.
US president Joe Biden released a furious statement on the new law on Wednesday, but did not suggest he would take direct action against it any time soon.
He said: “This extreme Texas law blatantly violates the constitutional right established under Roe v. Wade and upheld as precedent for nearly half a century.
“The Texas law will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of colour and individuals with low incomes.
“And, outrageously, it deputises private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who they believe has helped another person get an abortion, which might even include family members, health care workers, front desk staff at a healthcare clinic, or strangers with no connection to the individual.
“My administration is deeply committed to the constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade nearly five decades ago and will protect and defend that right.”