Science Fiction Eerily Depicts the Future of Reproductive Rights

Science fiction does portray the future of women’s wombs….. Margaret Atwood’s book, Handmaids Tale caught my attention in the 1980’s.  Although she portrayed a generation of women gone sterile from nuclear fallout…. it could be depicted that we will have a generation of sterile women from environmental toxins, extended use of hormone suppressants in birth control and Bill Gates favorite for population control – vaccinations.

What does science fiction tell us about the future of reproductive rights?

109 – Welcome from the future
February 22, 2012

If everything from technology to politics will be different in the future, then so will human reproduction. That’s why so much science fiction deals with the question of how humans make babies — or don’t make them — in alternate worlds that are often quite close to our own. It’s also why reproduction is a political issue. After all, a political campaign represents the promise of a new kind of future. What will happen if the state takes control of human reproduction? The answers could be weirder than you think — and might terrify pro-life politicians as much as pro-choice advocates. Here are some of the scenarios supplied by science fiction.

State-controlled reproduction is a nightmare

Perhaps the best known work of science fiction about state-controlled reproduction is Margaret Atwood’s Christian fundamentalist nightmare, The Handmaid’s Tale. Written in the 1980s (and adapted into a film in the 1990s), it’s about what would happen if right wing Christian politicians took control of North America in the wake of a nuclear disaster that’s left most of the population sterile. Women who are fertile become “handmaids” in the homes of wealthy patriarchs whose wives cannot bear children. Handmaids undergo a humiliating ritual where the patriarch tries to get them pregnant while their barren wives watch – the idea is that God will approve of this because it emulates an Old Testament scenario and the wives are participating “willingly.” In reality, the system turns women into property and also sets them against each other. Atwood imagines state-regulated reproduction as a horrific combination of authoritarianism in the public sphere, and spousal abuse and rape in the domestic one.

Other works imagine the state regulating reproduction using the carrot rather than the stick. Brave New World, published in the early 1930s during the height of the eugenics craze in the United States, imagines a future where the government breeds humans for specialized tasks. Some are designed to be strong but stupid low-caste workers, while others (the Alphas) are given perfect minds and physiques in order to take their places as societal leaders. Every child is also put through years of behavioral conditioning to reinforce their genetic predilections. The result is a society where everybody is content with their positions and sex is purely recreational. Similarly, the movie GATTACA imagines a future where everyone is genetically engineered for various class positions. Both stories include “wild type” characters, non-GMO people whose perspectives cast doubt on the justice of a system where the state determines who you are from conception onward.

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Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.