Bay Ridge

‘Handmaid’s Tale’ protesters vow to keep pressure on Donovan

November 26, 2017 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The costumed protesters lined the sidewalk outside Fort Hamilton High School so that they would be the first sight U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan would see when he arrived for his “Coffee With Your Congressman” event. Photo by Teri Brennan

Protesters who confronted U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan (R-Southwest Brooklyn-Staten Island) at a recent “Coffee With Your Congressman” event in Bay Ridge and who came to the session dressed in costumes inspired by the dystopian Hulu television series “The Handmaid’s Tale” vowed to keep up the pressure on the lawmaker over his pro-life position on the issue of abortion.

On a recent Saturday, dozens of women wearing crimson robes and white bonnets to depict characters from “The Handmaid’s Tale” protested at Donovan’s meet and greet event at Fort Hamilton High School to demonstrate against the congressman’s vote in favor of legislation banning abortions after 20 weeks.

The women in the television series, like the females in the Margaret Atwood novel on which the show is based, do not have reproductive freedom. Many are forced into pregnancy and give birth to children of wealthy couples.

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“We will continue to highlight attacks on women’s bodily autonomy until this government stops trying to insert itself into our private lives,” Rachel Brody, a Bay Ridge resident and a protest organize, said in a statement. “We hope Rep. Donovan has used the weeks since his first coffee event to educate himself on the links between reproductive freedom and economic and social independence. We want him to commit to defending our reproductive rights in the future, rather than using junk science and partisan rhetoric to continue the GOP’s war on women.”

The “Handmaid’s Tale” protesters also handed out literature to residents attending the “Coffee With Your Congressman” event in the high school’s cafeteria.

Donovan’s vote on the 20-week abortion bill isn’t the only thing that demonstrators objected to.

The protesters said they were also angry with a rollback of the Affordable Care Act’s mandate for copay-free birth control, as well as a move by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to redefine its mission as protecting Americans “at every state of life, beginning at conception.”

“Congressman Donovan needs to stop imposing his personal views on his female constituents in direct contradiction of scientific fact,” protest organizer Devon Morales said in a statement. “We are not political pawns, and we will continue to speak out against his support of draconian federal policies that represent a war on women and disproportionately affect poor women and women of color.”

A spokesperson for Donovan defended the lawmaker’s vote on the abortion bill.

“Late-term abortion is an extreme procedure that a majority of Americans rightfully oppose. Science and medicine has advanced since 1973 when the Roe v. Wade decision determined that a baby was viable after 26 weeks. Now the medical community has deemed that a baby feels pain at 20 weeks, and this legislation reflects that reality,” the spokesperson told the Brooklyn Eagle in an email.

Other topics Donovan discussed with constituents at the Fort Hamilton High School event included: gun violence, the defense budget, net neutrality, foreign policy, climate change and the tax reform bill, which Donovan voted against. 

The idea behind the “Coffee with Your Congressman” event was to give Donovan’s constituents the opportunity to meet with the lawmaker and ask him questions on issues of concern to them, according to a spokesperson.


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