Lauren Conrad, Jameela Jamil, and Nicki Minaj have all spoken out in support of abortion access.
Abortion is controversial, but it’s also incredibly common: About one in five pregnancies end in abortion, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and nearly one in four people who can become pregnant will have an abortion in their lifetime, per the Guttmacher Institute.
Now, after federal protection for abortion ended with the Supreme Court's decision in the case of?Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health, the battle for reproductive rights has shifted to the state capitals. Roughly half of U.S. states have introduced bills and ballot measures to ban abortion outright, denying people the ability to make crucial decisions about their own bodies and lives.
To raise awareness and support for abortion rights, these celebrities are choosing to speak about their by turns traumatic and liberating experiences of ending a pregnancy.
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The actor Uma Thurman penned an op-ed for the?Washington Post in September 2021, coming out against Texas’s heartbeat abortion law. The?Kill Bill star explained her decision to share her own experience with abortion “in the hope of drawing the flames of controversy away from the vulnerable women on whom this law will have an immediate effect.” Thurman described her experience of living abroad at 15 and becoming “accidentally impregnated by a much older man.”
She recounted her desire to keep the baby, and her ultimate decision to terminate the pregnancy after consulting with her parents. “We decided as a family that I couldn’t go through with the pregnancy, and agreed that termination was the right choice. My heart was broken nonetheless,” she added.
The comedian, actress, and cohost of The View?gave an impassioned speech on that show about bodily autonomy, equating abortion access with healthcare, in defiance of the news about the Supreme Court leaked draft opinion overturning?Roe v. Wade.
Goldberg previously opened up about her own experience with an unsafe abortion in an essay for the book The Choices We Made, by Angela Bonavoglia. “I found out I was pregnant when I was 14. I didn’t get a period. I talked to nobody. I panicked. I sat in hot baths. I drank these strange concoctions girls told me about. ... I got violently ill,” she recalled.
The comedian and provocateur Chelsea Handler wrote about two abortions she had at the age of 16 in a personal essay for Playboy. Handler recalled her thought process at the time, writing, “I just thought, ‘Why not? I can have a baby. Maybe I’ll have twins and give them rhyming names!”
But with the perspective of time, Handler, who was in her forties when she wrote the essay, said: “Of course, the idea that I would have a child and raise it by myself at that age, when I couldn’t even find my way home at night, was ridiculous. My parents recognized that, so they acted like parents for one of the very first times in my life and took me to Planned Parenthood.”
The actor and singer Keke Palmer first shared her experience with abortion in May 2019, after Alabama’s governor signed into law a ban on nearly all abortions. In solidarity with thousands of other women online, Palmer, who has starred in films and television series including Hustlers and Scream Queens, tweeted that she had chosen to undergo an abortion in the past because she wasn’t ready to have a child at that point in her life.
“I was worried about my career responsibilities and afraid that I could not exist as a career woman and a mother,” she said.
The frontwoman of the '90s riot grrl band Bikini Kill and later Le Tigre, Kathleen Hanna has been vocal about her experience with abortion as a teenager and her pro-choice stance at her band’s recent concerts.
Hanna spoke to The Rumpus about how having an abortion at an early age gave her the ability to pursue her passion and change the trajectory of her life. “Well, I worked at McDonald’s to get my abortion. I was only 15, and the person who got me pregnant did not want to give me any money,” she said.
In 2019, in response to Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” which states that no abortion shall be performed if an unborn child has a detectable heartbeat, the actor and model Milla Jovovich discussed the emergency abortion she had while shooting a film in eastern Europe in 2016.
“I don’t like to get political, and I try to only do it if I really have to and this is one of those times,” she wrote on her Instagram account. “Abortion is hard enough for women on an emotional level without having to go through it in potentially unsafe and unsanitary conditions,” she explained.
Jemima Kirke, who gained widespread fame playing Jessa in HBO’s Girls, opened up about her decision to have an abortion, in support of the campaign Draw the Line, which shared real women’s stories with reproductive healthcare, spearheaded by the Center for Reproductive Rights.
The mother of two said, “In 2007, I became pregnant with my boyfriend at the time. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be attached to this person for the rest of my life. My life was just not conducive to raising a happy, healthy, child,” she said.
The Australian comedian Hannah Gadsby spoke about an abortion she chose to undergo after surviving rape in Variety’s?"Power of Pride" cover story. Gadsby, a lesbian, spoke out against “heartbeat laws," explaining that she would not be here today if she lived in a state that curtailed abortion access.
“I was assaulted, raped, and very, very vulnerable. How was I going to raise a child? I would have ended up dead. How is that pro-life? You can’t say women can’t have abortions and then provide absolutely no infrastructure to help them,” she said.
The 39-year-old actor, writer, and mother Amber Tamblyn, who began her career playing Emily Quartermaine on?General Hospital,?took part in the Bans Off Our Bodies protest in New York City in support of reproductive rights in May 2022. As reported by?Bust, Tamblyn?shared on?Twitter?that she underwent an abortion in 2012.
“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I still think about it to this day. But these truths do not make my decision. It was the right choice for me, at that time in my life. I have not a single doubt about this #YouKnowMe.”
The Trinidadian rapper Nicki Minaj shared personal details about an abortion she had as a teen in a revealing interview she gave Rolling Stone in 2014. She described what it was like finding out she was pregnant, saying, “I thought I was going to die. I was a teenager. [The abortion] was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through,” she said.
Although Minaj admitted to psychological distress following the procedure in the interview, she remains firmly pro-choice. “I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have anything to offer a child,” she said.
In 2019, the actor and television host Busy Phillips revealed onstage at a Goop Health conference in Los Angeles that she had had an abortion, according to an article in?Vanity Fair. “It’s not brave for me to say I had an abortion at 15, because it’s a medical thing, a choice that I made, and I don’t regret it at all,” she told the audience.
Phillips is credited with starting the #YouKnowMe hashtag on Twitter, Bust reported, after Georgia passed its anti-abortion law that same year. Phillips spoke at the House Judiciary Committee at the time, saying, “I am also the one in four women in this country who have had an abortion.”
The indie singer took to her Instagram account to share her abortion story with her 1.9 million followers in May 2022 as the Supreme Court appeared to edge closer to overturning Roe v. Wade. Bridgers revealed that she had an abortion the previous year and how that experience informed her beliefs about ensuring everyone has access to abortions.
“I had an abortion in October of last year while I was on tour. I went to Planned Parenthood, where they gave me the abortion pill. It was easy. Everyone deserves that kind of access,” she said.
Known widely for her role as Donna in That ’70s Show, the Orange Is the New Black actress Laura Prepon told People that she and her husband made the difficult decision to terminate her second pregnancy after a sonogram revealed that the fetus likely had a congenital disability.
Prepon was told the fetus would not mature and that continuing the pregnancy put her own life at risk. “Our neonatal specialist told us the brain was not growing, and the bones were not growing,” she said. Prepon decided to go public with the story because “in order to have a real conversation about motherhood, you need to share truths and talk about what’s really going on.”
On her?Instagram?account in May 2019, the actor Minka Kelly posted an image of the 25 Alabama state senators who voted for the Human Life Protection Act (since overturned) which was set to ban almost all abortions in the state. Kelly, who gained fame on the show Friday Night Lights, decided to share her abortion story to emphasize why she believes it was the right decision for her.
“When I was younger I had an abortion. It was the smartest decision I could’ve made, not only for myself and my boyfriend at the time, but also for this unborn fetus,” she said. “Having a baby at the time would’ve only perpetuated the cycle of poverty, chaos, and dysfunction I was born into,” she wrote.
The Good Place actor and activist Jameela Jamil criticized the Georgia abortion ban by describing an abortion she had when she was younger. The 36-year-old Jamil revealed personal details on her Instagram, writing that even though she “used two different types of contraception, they both failed, and I aborted eight weeks later.”
“Abortion saved my life,” Jamil said. “It was not hard for me, I live with zero regret, only deep relief and gratitude,” she said.
The fashion designer and former star of The Hills used Instagram to share her experience with an ectopic pregnancy, a condition that occurs when a fertilized egg implants somewhere other than the uterus. In these cases, the fertilized egg will often land in the fallopian tubes. Such pregnancies are not viable, because a fetus cannot survive outside the uterus.
“I wanted to share my own experience with lifesaving reproductive care,” Conrad said. “Six years ago, while trying to start our family, I had an ectopic pregnancy.”
Ectopic pregnancies are life-threatening to the pregnant person. If the fetus keeps growing, it can rupture the woman’s fallopian tubes, which is extremely dangerous.
“I hope someday we will be in a place where every woman has access to the healthcare she needs and the freedom to decide what happens in her own body.”
The award-winning musician and Fleetwood Mac goddess Stevie Nicks had an abortion in 1979. Nicks spoke with The Guardian in 2020 about her experience. “If I had not had that abortion, I’m pretty sure there would have been no Fleetwood Mac,” Nicks said.
Nicks was in her thirties, and Fleetwood Mac was at peak popularity. The band was about to embark on a world tour for their latest album, Tusk.
"There's just no way that I could have had a child then, working as hard as we worked constantly. … I would have had to walk away."
The iconic actor and singer Debbie Reynolds spoke candidly in a 1989 interview with Joan Rivers about two medically necessary abortions she underwent in the 1960s after experiencing miscarriages. The Singing in the Rain star explained that she was already a mom to two kids, including her daughter, Carrie Fisher, and wanted to have two more.
But seven months into Reynolds’s next pregnancy, she learned the fetus was a stillbirth. When a fetus dies before delivery, it can take two weeks or more for labor to begin on its own. Reynolds wanted to have the fetus removed — it was no longer viable. But this was before Roe, and abortion was illegal.
"That was the law. It didn't matter," Reynolds said. "It had to abort itself — it could not be taken from me. It's insane to think that could be."
The doctors had planned to make her carry the stillborn fetus to term. It was only after the condition became life-threatening that doctors agreed to perform an abortion. Reynolds tried for a child again and the same thing happened — the fetus died inside her before delivery. This time, she insisted the doctors remove the fetus so that she wouldn’t nearly die again.
In September 2020, the model and social media influencer shared that she and her husband, the musician John Legend, lost their third pregnancy — a son, Jack — to a miscarriage. But two years later, she revealed that what actually happened was an abortion. “It became very clear that he would not survive, and that I wouldn’t either without any medical intervention,” Chrissy said. She went on to explain that it took her over a year to comprehend that they had had an abortion. “I told the world we had a miscarriage, the world agreed we had a miscarriage, all the headlines said it was a miscarriage,” she said. “And I became really frustrated that I didn’t, in the first place, say what it was.”
In her 2011 memoir, the West Side Story legend Rita Moreno shared the painful memory of the time Hollywood heartthrob Marlon Brando forced her to have an abortion when she was 22. Abortions were illegal at the time, and Brando paid for a doctor who botched the procedure and left her hospitalized. After Roe v. Wade was overturned, Moreno opened up about her?outrage in an interview with?Variety. She said she was “jubilant” after Roe v. Wade passed in 1973 and feels “depressed” about the situation now. “I think about the young girls. Taking it to the most extreme, girls who get pregnant because of rape or incest. Unfair isn’t a strong enough word, but it’s unfair,” Moreno said. “We loudmouths are going to have to get busy. There are many of us. I’m thinking what are we going to do about this? If anything, this has reactivated us.”
The Dancing With the Stars pro revealed in a TikTok video that she had an abortion when she was a teenager, even though she was using protection and on birth control at the time. “If it?wasn’t for places like Planned Parenthood, I would be a mother and I wouldn’t have been a great mother and I definitely wouldn’t be sitting here with you today,” she said. “You’re taking away women’s rights, our bodies, our freedom. Our bodies have nothing to do with anybody else, right? This is a decision that we need to make.”
In a 2021 Saturday Night Live skit, the comedian Cecily Strong appeared as Goober the Clown and talked about getting an abortion. “I wish I didn’t have to do this, cuz the abortion I had at 23 is my personal clown business, but that’s all some people in this country wanna discuss all the time!” Speaking for others who have also had the medical procedure, she said, “We kept this secret for so long, despite being so grateful it happened! Here’s my truth: I know I wouldn’t be a clown on TV here today if it weren’t for the abortion I had the day before my 23rd birthday. Clowns have been helping each other and their pregnancies since the caves. It’s going to happen, so it might as well be safe, legal, and accessible.” As USA Today reported, Strong later revealed in her Instagram stories that the sketch was based on her own personal experience.
Billie Jean King
Before Roe v. Wade was overturned, the tennis trailblazer Billie Jean King wrote an op-ed in the?Washington Post saying that she had an unplanned pregnancy in 1971 when she was ranked the top female player in the world. Abortion was legal in California at the time, but it was extremely expensive, and she had to explain to a hospital committee why she should be allowed to have one. “Arguing to a dozen or so people I had never met why I qualified for an abortion remains one of the most degrading experiences of my life,” she wrote.
The Dirty Dancing star told the Los Angeles Times she felt emotional when she heard the news that Roe v. Wade was no more. “Even though I’ve seen it coming, even though we’ve been hearing what’s coming, it doesn’t feel real.” Grey’s connection to abortion comes both from her own experience having one — which she shared in her 2022 memoir — and as an actress in a movie whose central theme was the dire consequences of back-alley abortions. “We saw someone who was hemorrhaging,” Grey says. “We saw what happens to people without means — the haves and the have-nots. I love that part of the storyline, because it was really a feminist movie in a rom-com. It was a perfect use of history.”
The One Tree Hill?star Hilarie Burton shared on Instagram that she had an abortion after a pregnancy loss. “This is my child. My beloved. My daughter,” she wrote in the caption of a photo of her child, George Virginia. “It is no secret I struggled with infertility. Losing multiple pregnancies before her was traumatic. But female bodies are all different and unpredictable. Having an abortion after my fetus died allowed for my uterus to heal in a way that made it healthy enough to carry future pregnancies. It doesn’t matter if you use the term D&C. The official word on the hospital paperwork is abortion. That’s what it was.”