The Fertility Crisis (Series) is an enduring event in The Handmaid's Tale (Series). Prior to the creation of Gilead, the United States--along with the rest of the world--was experiencing a severe fertility crisis.

Depiction of the CrisisEdit

When getting pregnant, June tells Moira that five women at her workplace had miscarriages[1].

Flashback scene from Birth Day

In the hospital, Hannah's birth becomes the only successful one that night: apart from two casualties, all babies are stillborn. A desperate woman later tries to kidnap June's daughter, claiming the baby is hers[2].

Assumed ReasonsEdit

Researches outside Gilead Edit

According to Mark Tuello, independent American scientists see infertility "often originating with the men"[3].

Gilead Propaganda and Ideology Edit

An early member of the Sons of Jacob explains God doesn't want children to grow up in a "screwed-up" society that "only cares for profit and pleasure"[4].

A Gilead official later blames infertility to the high education level of women which lets them "forget their real purpose", confirming Gilead "won't let that happen again"[4].

Serena Joy sees fertility as a national resource[4].

Social and Political ReactionsEdit

Before Gilead Edit

Joseph Lawrence's bibliography documents "problematic populist upheavals" and a "religious revival" as social responses to the fertility crisis.

As a means of addressing the crisis, the U.S. government enacts several policies, such as making it illegal for a man to undergo a vasectomy,[5] and requiring husbands to formally consent to their wives filling birth control prescriptions[6]. The placement process for untended children is deregulated ("privatized") to meet a growing market for adoptions[7]. A member of the religious Sons of Jacob confirms his group is involved in "getting children out of their sinful homes" [8].

When June is called away from work to go pick up Hannah from the hospital because of a fever, a nurse asks her a bunch of questions about her capacity as a parent, blaming her for missing parental care due to her full-time job[6].

After the Takeover Edit

Birth control is illegal and the penalty for using birth control is to be eaten by dogs[9].

Serena presenting children and fertile women
at the banquet(A Woman's Place)

Fertility as a "national resource": In A Woman's Place, the local admistration organizes a gala dinner to honour Gilead and show the foreign delegates their success, including presenting the children of Gilead. Serena Joy instructs Aunt Lydia to "remove the damaged ones" of the handmaids from the banquet due to their visible mutilations done by the regime. Alma later remarks to Offred that the delegates are interested in fertile women as a commodity to be traded between the two nations.

Notable Quotes Edit

References Edit

  1. Episode 1.1, Offred (TV Episode)
  2. Episode 1.2, Birth Day
  3. Episode 3.9, Smart Power
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Episode 1.6, A Woman's Place
  5. Episode 1.7, "The Other Side"
  6. 6.0 6.1 Episode 2.1, "June (TV Episode)"
  7. Following Aunt Lydia's explication, in Unfit
  8. Boston Globe interview, in "Baggage"
  9. Episode 3.10, "Witness"
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