Margaret Atwood delivered a searing indictment on Saturday against Republicans working to ban abortion at the Santa Fe Literary Festival.
“As far as I’m concerned, it’s a reward for MeToo,” she said, adding that banning abortion would create an environment where “you can accuse people of abortion” as a form of blackmail. Anyone can approach a woman of childbearing age and say, “You got one, and then where’s my $10,000?” Atwood added.
The two-time Booker Prize winner and author of The Handmaid’s Tale received a standing ovation from attendees when she took the stage for a conversation moderated by literary editor and longtime friend, Amy Grace Loyd.
Atwood spoke at length about the leaked memo suggesting the U.S. Supreme Court is set to overturn Roe v Wade, the landmark precedent set in the 1973 ruling, which enshrined constitutional abortion protections .
Aiming at conservative justices and lawmakers who describe themselves as constitutional originalists in advocating the repeal of such legislation, Atwood said, “If you take the original Constitution [as it is and apply it]many people will lose their rights, including all women.
She added that the next to lose their rights, according to a strict reading of the historical document, would be “anyone who does not own property”.
“The First Amendment says there is no state religion,” Atwood continued, to enthusiastic applause and cheers. “This means that the religious beliefs of one group should not be imposed on everyone else.”
Despite the erosion of women’s rights, Atwood said she had great hope for the future. “I think hope is part of the human toolbox that we come with because those of our distant ancestors who had no hope didn’t use their ingenuity…to get out of very difficult situations. “, she said. “…If you give up, if you’re not optimistic about anything, things inevitably get worse.”
Speaking of the need to constantly organize and push back against political tyranny, Atwood concluded, “For hope, we need will and luck, but above all will.”
On the first full day of the festival, Atwood addressed a full house of over 900 people. She joined an impressive number of Saturday speakers, including John Grisham, Don Winslow, Phil Klay, Emily St. John Mandel and Bryant Terry.
The inaugural festival opened Friday evening with a similarly sold-out speech by two-time Pultizer Prize winner Colson Whitehead.
Sunday speakers include George RR Martin, fantasy novelist, screenwriter and author of The Song of Ice and Fire, which was adapted into the HBO series The iron Throne; Lawrence Wright, Pulitzer Prize winner; author and criminal justice activist Valeria Luiselli; chef, cookbook author and owner of London’s Darjeeling Express restaurant, Asma Khan; and investigative journalist and author of Under the banner of heaven, John Krakauer.
The Independent, as the event’s international media partner, provides coverage of each day of the festival with exclusive interviews with some of the key writers. To learn more about the festival, visit our Santa Fe Literary Festival Chapter or visit the the festival website.
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