Celebrities are coming forward to share their personal abortion stories after Alabama passed a bill that could see abortion criminalised in the US state of Georgia. The measure is a "fetal heartbeat bill", known as the HB 481, that would outlaw abortion after six weeks, which is when a heartbeat is sometimes detected in an embryo, but before many women know that they're pregnant.
The bill criminalises the procedure itself, which means women who get an abortion could face life in prison and even the death penalty. That's because, as Slate explains, once HB 481 takes effect, a woman who terminates her own pregnancy with, for example, a drug easily available on the internet, "will have, as a matter of law, killed a human, thereby committing murder." Under Georgia law, the punishment for that crime is life imprisonment or capital punishment.
The new law would also have consequences for women who suffer a miscarriage. If a woman was to miscarry based on her behaviours, such as the use of drugs or alcohol, she would be liable for second-degree murder, which is punishable to 10 to 30 years' imprisonment.
Busy Phillips began the hashtag #YouKnowMe, which encouraged women to come forward. Below, celebrities who have shared their abortion stories.
“I had an abortion when I was 15 years old and I’m telling you this because I’m genuinely really scared for women and girls all over the country,” Philipps said on her shoe Busy Tonight. “Is that a hard left turn?” she asked, comparing the topic of abortion to the regular pop culture topics on her show. “Yeah, it is. Is it kind of jarring? Yes, it is also kind of jarring. But, guess what? That’s what being a f—ing woman is. Having a regular Tuesday and then suddenly being reminded that people are trying to police your body. And then you just have to go back to work.”
She later asked women to share their stories on Twitter, using the hashtag #youknowme.
“It was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I still think about it to this day,” Tamblyn wrote on Twitter. “But these truths do not make me regret my decision. It was the right choice for me, at that time in my life. I have not a single doubt about this.”
“When I was younger I had an abortion. It was the smartest decision I could’ve made, not only for myself & my boyfriend at the time but also for this unborn fetus,” Kelly wrote, alongside a photo of all 25 Alabama state senators who voted for the bill. “Having a baby at that time would have only perpetuated the cycle of poverty, chaos and dysfunction I was born into.”
“If you insist on forcing women to carry to term, why do you refuse to talk about comprehensive sex-ed, the maternal mortality rate, free daycare, paid maternity leave?” She concluded her post by sharing her appreciation for men who have spoken up on this issue and reminded her followers that “women do not get pregnant alone” and “outlawing abortion has never stopped women from attempting it.”
“This anti-abortion law in Georgia is so upsetting, inhumane, and blatantly demonstrative of a hatred of women, a disregard for our rights, bodies, mental health, and essentially a punishment for rape victims, forcing to carry the baby of their rapist,” she wrote alongside a link to a Slate article that stated that Georgia had just criminalized abortion.
“I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want, and wasn’t ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially. So many children will end up in foster homes. So many lives ruined. So very cruel.”
“I don’t like to get political,” she wrote, opening up about her 2017 “emergency” abortion. “I went into pre term labor and told that I had to be awake for the whole procedure. It was one of the most horrific experiences I have ever gone through. I still have nightmares about it. I was alone and helpless. When I think about the fact that women might have to face abortions in even worse conditions than I did because of new laws, my stomach turns.”
“It was the hardest thing I’d ever gone through,” she said of having an abortion. “[It’s] haunted me all my life. It’d be contradictory if I said I wasn’t pro-choice. I wasn’t ready. I didn’t have anything to offer a child.”
“It would have been absolute career death for me to have done that…it would have been unthinkable to have a child,” she told Piers Morgan in a 2010 interview. “He didn’t have any money, I had nothing, and I believe if you are going to bring a child into the world that you have to have a responsibility to that child,” she added.
“I found out I was pregnant when I was fourteen,” she wrote. “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 — something like Johnny Walker Red with a little bit of Clorox, alcohol, baking soda (which probably saved my stomach) and some sort of cream. You mixed it all up. I got violently ill. At that moment I was more afraid of having to explain to anybody what was wrong than of going to the park with a hanger, which is what I did.”
In a personal essay for Playboy‘s “Freedom Issue,” Handler opened up about two abortions she had at age 16. “I just thought, ‘Why not?’ I can have a baby. Maybe I’ll have twins and give them rhyming names,” she detailed. “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 recognised that, so they acted like parents for one of the very first times in my life and took me to Planned Parenthood.”
“Getting unintentionally pregnant more than once is irresponsible, but it’s still necessary to make a thoughtful decision,” Handler wrote. “We all make mistakes all the time. I happened to f— up twice at the age of 16. I’m grateful that I came to my senses and was able to get an abortion legally without risking my health or bankrupting myself or my family.”
The feminist activist got very candid in an interview with NPR’s Fresh Air host Terry Gross on becoming pregnant at 22 and having an abortion before it was legal. “I had been doing all of the foolish things that we then did [to terminate a pregnancy], like riding horseback, throwing ourselves down stairs,” she explained. “I am the most cowardly person you can imagine, physically speaking, but I did [throw myself down stairs] … I was desperate. I really was desperate. I just knew that if I went home and married, which I would’ve had to do, it would be to the wrong person; it would be to a life that wasn’t mine, that wasn’t mine at all.”
“I had an abortion at 17 and it was the worst thing I ever did. It was the first time I’d had sex, and that was rotten. I’d always thought it was going to be all violins, and it was just awful,” she told the Daily Mail in a 2004 interview.
Osbourne told her mother after realising two months in that she was pregnant and without hesitation, her mother responded, “You have to get rid of it.”
For years, the singer was at the centre of rumours that claimed she had terminated a pregnancy with Eagles frontman Don Henley, which inspired her song “Sara.” Nicks finally set the record straight with Billboard in 2014. “Had I married Don and had that baby, and had she been a girl, I would have named her Sara,” Nicks said, though she said it wasn’t the entire basis for the song.
“I knew that in sharing my story, I would be judged for the decision I made. But I wanted to let other women facing the same difficult decision know that they weren’t alone,” she wrote, adding that she also did it in tribute to her grandmother Clara Esther White, who spent “more than five years counselling women through their decision to terminate their pregnancies,” and her mother, who was also involved in everything from counselling to sterilising equipment.
“I have had an abortion and I support this message. I am not ashamed, nor should you be. That 60% of those who choose to have abortions are already mothers says a lot- they understand more than anyone. I was on birth control and it failed,” she wrote.
“I realised I could not bring a child into my world and simultaneously change the world. I do not regret my decision and it was not made lightly. If you do not want an abortion, don’t get one. My body, my choice, my life. Have you had to make a choice? Let’s talk and use hashtag #HonestAbortion.”