A Musing on “The Handmaid’s Tale”

So, I’m loving Hulu’s production of “The Handmaid’s Tale”. But I do have one nagging irritation, which isn’t their fault. In fact, it’s in the source material, and is the underlying foundation of the story, so, really, they couldn’t “fix” it.

Here it is: this is a really stupid way to address a fertility problem

Yes, yes. I know the story is really the subjugation of women via an authoritarian government using some vaguely Christian bullshit as their excuse, but they really do have a fertility problem. It appear that, at a minimum, the entire continent of North America has one.

So. Their solution? Round up all the fertile women and subject them to sex during their “fertile time”, apparently using some bullshit rhythm method.

I get it. The horror of the story is ratcheted up by forcing women to endure a ceremonial rape every month. I don’t have a problem with it as a storytelling device, really. But, as I scientist, I call bullshit.

If I was going to subjugate women AND try and fix a fertility problem, here’s how I’d do it:

  1. Round up all the women between the ages of 16 and 40 who have either had a child, or are young enough that they haven’t tried to, yet.
  2. Using standard treatments for infertility, get them all on hormones to control their cycles and stimulate ovulation of multiple eggs at a time.
  3. Retrieve eggs, perform IVF to generate as many embryos as possible, then transfer 1-2 embryos per woman back.
  4. Freeze the remaining embryos, or transfer some into women who didn’t produce eggs/embryos.
  5. Repeat.

This is gonna be a lot more effective than “natural pregnancy” induced by having sex a couple times a month when you think someone “should” be fertile. It doesn’t look like they’re using any ovulation prediction methods – I mean, would it kill you to


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