'Handmaid's Tale' Star Ann Dowd Says Abortion Restrictions Are 'Disgusting'

Illustration by Britt Spencer

"It's disgusting to me," was the reaction from The Handmaid's Tale star Ann Dowd when asked about the abortion restrictions being passed in states like Georgia, Alabama and Missouri. The series, set in Gilead—a totalitarian society in a dystopian future where some women are forced into sexual servitude—premiered in April 2017, and is the perfect foil to Trump's presidency, according to Dowd. She plays the strict, God-fearing Aunt Lydia who prepares the handmaids to be concubines. Season 2 ends with Aunt Lydia being stabbed by Alexis Bledel's Emily. The Handmaid's Tale, originally written in 1985 by Margaret Atwood (a consulting producer on the series), has garnered dozens of Emmy award nominations, with Dowd winning in 2017 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. The Handmaid's Tale is a cautionary tale about what could happen if women's rights are taken away. Dowd has a message for people signing the anti-abortion bills: "Go to church and ask for forgiveness: That's my advice to all of you who are dying to shut down women's rights." Season 3 premieres on Wednesday.

What's next for Aunt Lydia after she gets literally and figuratively stabbed in the back?

She was stunned by her own lack of awareness. Lydia is pretty instinctual and has a sixth sense for when something's up, yet she didn't sense betrayal from her girls. Now Lydia is left to examine what happened. She's scared and unsure, and she wants to get back on her feet, but the accident was very costly to her.

Do we get to see a new side of Aunt Lydia in Season 3?

We get to see her backstory. We learn something about her past. It makes sense and it adds up. Shooting it was eight of the best days of my life. It was very meaningful and helpful to coming to understand Lydia.

Tell me about Margaret Atwood.

She is one of the most intelligent, sharpest people. She's way ahead of the game, and I like her tremendously. She's not shy about identifying who's wrong.

What's your view about the abortion restrictions that are currently being passed?

The drama and the sensationalizing from the point of view of the people who want to pass these bills is appalling. I'm enraged about how the situation is being portrayed.

Maria Vultaggio