Celebrities on Both Sides Get Real About Abortion
Today marks the 41st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade ruling to legalize abortion, a historic shift in reproductive rights. Even though it's been more than four decades since the ruling, it continues to be an emotional subject that politicians and celebrities often discuss. In 2012, abortion became a heated topic in political debates, and the issue made headlines last Summer with the controversial Texas abortion bill. Over the years, celebrities — both men and women — have discussed their personal views and experiences with abortion, and their comments support the reality that despite anyone's pro-choice or pro-life stance, the decision to have or not have an abortion is an incredibly difficult one.
In an Operation Rescue Newsletter, Gwyneth Paltrow and her mom Blythe Danner voiced their beliefs:
"[W]e are first and foremost a mother and daughter, and we cannot stand idly by as birth control, family planning, and basic health care come under attack . . . Such a personal decision should be made by families, not by politicians. We need common-sense solutions to the health issues we face throughout our lives. Planned Parenthood provides those solutions, helping millions of women each day, improving our communities and our families."
In 2006, Scarlett Johansson talked about abortion in an interview with Cosmopolitan:
"We are supposed to be liberated in America but if our President [George W. Bush] had his way, we wouldn't be educated about sex at all. Every woman would have six children and we wouldn't be able to have abortions."
Kirsten Dunst talked about abortion during an interview with Collider in 2010:
"I thought about the abortion scene [in All Good Things] a lot. It was something that his character decided. She was not going to have this baby. In my own way, I had to figure out how I could make it so that it could be my choice and I was not just succumbing under his rule.
I just thought, 'I wouldn't want to bring a baby into this marriage, since it is really not going well. I am young enough. I can have another child with someone else, somewhere down the line. Maybe he is not ready, right now in his life. A lot of things have happened.' I tried not to cry and play it like, 'Oh, poor me,' because that would be really boring.
I didn't want people to feel like, 'Just leave and have your baby.' She also didn't have the means, and it was a different time. She didn't come from money and she couldn't be a single mother so easily, like we have the option to now."
During a Mississippi rally, Mark Ruffalo talked about women's rights over time:
"There was no mistake in us making abortion legal and available on demand. That was what we call progress. Just like it was no mistake that we abolished institutional racism in this country around the same time. The easy thing to do is lay low, but then are we who we say we are? Do we actually stand for anything, if what we do stand for is under attack and we say nothing? There is nothing to be ashamed of here except to allow a radical and recessive group of people to bully and intimidate our mothers and sisters and daughters for exercising their right of choice."
In 2011, Chelsea Handler told The New York Times that she's had an abortion and finds it important to say so:
"I had an abortion when I was 16. Because that's what I should have done. Otherwise I would now have a 20-year-old kid. Anyway, those are things that people shouldn't be dishonest about it."
In the liner notes of his album Ben Folds Live, Ben Folds shared his personal experience with the issue:
"The song ['Brick'] is about when I was in high school, me and my girlfriend had to get an abortion, and it was a very sad thing. And, I didn't really want to write this song from any kind of political standpoint, or make a statement. I just wanted to reflect what it feels like. So, anyone who's gone through that before, then you'll know what the song's about."
"I definitely thought about it long and hard, about if I wanted to keep the baby or not, and I wasn't thinking about adoption. I do think every woman should have the right to do what they want, but I don't think it's talked through enough. I can't even tell you how many people just say, 'Oh, get an abortion.' Like it's not a big deal."
Whoopi Goldberg talked about abortion on The View in 2007, highlighting the dangers of illegal procedures:
"Most women do not have [abortions] with some sort of party going on. It is the hardest decision that a woman ever has to make . . . One of the reasons we've had to make this decision is because so many women were found bleeding, dead, with hangers in their bodies because they were doing it themselves. The idea of this was to make it safe and clean — that was the reason the law came into effect."
Jane Fonda addressed abortion on her website in 2009:
"Reproductive health has to be understood from a woman’s point of view. How a woman manages her fertility comprises a whole spectrum of factors — her relations, sexual and otherwise with her partner; her economic and psychological circumstances; her status within the family and in the community; her future security. Health factors are only one among all these others and since childbearing and child rearing is a complex social and economic undertaking that affects a woman’s economic, social, sexual, and emotional life, and the life of her family and her community, this undertaking cannot be decided by a medical doctor who is weighing it from the point of view of health risks, or of policy-makers who may view it subjectively as a moral issue. This makes the woman an 'object' and it dismisses her knowledge about her own body and her own life and instead of enhancing her dignity and self-respect it belittles and disempowers her."
Lily Allen tweeted about abortion in 2012:
"Can small minded idiot blokes stop telling women whether or not they're entitled to abortions please ? #enoughnow. . . . The day the number of single father households equal the number of single mother households is the day I start to listen to their views."