The Atlantic

Could The Handmaid's Tale Actually Happen?

We’re a long way from Gilead, praise be, but pollution can hurt fertility.
Source: Brian Snyder / Reuters

The handmaids—if they had been allowed to write in Margaret Atwood’s dystopia—would not have much to write home about. As the book and popular Hulu show portray, the lives of fertile, low-status women in The Handmaid’s Tale consist of little more than sitting around in their “Commanders’” houses, waiting around to be inseminated.

But that’s still better than what happens to those who can’t bear children: They’re sent to some grim-sounding “Colonies” to clean up toxic waste. It’s this pollution that supposedly contributed to the epidemic of infertility that, according

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