NPR Host Dee Dee Bridgewater Shares Her Illegal Abortion Story

If you know at least three women, it’s likely that you know someone who has had an abortion. With the proliferation of legislation attempting to restrict access to safe abortion, that is a really scary statistic — as abortion access dwindles, the 1.3 million people who seek the procedure each year are forced to find alternative (and illegal) options for ending their pregnancies.

Unfortunately, this dangerous practice isn't new. Even after the historic Roe v. Wade decision, people in poor and rural communities still turned to illegal abortions. Attacks on abortion access have increased the prevalence of these procedures, especially in areas where access is severely limited.

In an video for The Center For Reproductive Rights’ “Draw The Line” campaign, jazz singer and NPR host Dee Dee Bridgewater shared her personal experience with illegal abortion, and urged all women to stand up for their reproductive rights.

At Think Progress, Tara Culp-Ressler describes the video:

Bridgewater describes going to a hotel room to meet a friend of hers who was a nurse. Her friend inserted a rubber hose into her body and told her to leave it there for the next several days. Two days later, Bridgewater started to hemorrhage and was rushed to an emergency room. “I just remember this excruciating pain,” she says. “I am appalled that they are trying to take away the rights we fought so hard for…I am saying to all women, stand up for your rights. You are the one who should decide what you will do with your body. To take away our reproductive choice can hurt you.”

Dee Dee Bridgewater’s story is not uncommon. Historically, a lack of access meant that the poor and women of color were forced to attempt self-abortion, including “inserting knitting needles or coat hangers into the vagina and uterus, douching with dangerous solutions such as lye, or swallowing strong drugs or chemicals.”

This history is gruesome, but it cannot be forgotten. As anti-choice legislators seek to ban abortion at all costs — costs that may include the lost lives of pregnant people — these stories will become much more common. The National Abortion Federation estimates that 35 percent of women will have an abortion by the time they’re 45, and those women aren’t going to suddenly stop terminating pregnancies because the procedure has been made illegal.

Watch the video below:

Center for Reproductive Rights on YouTube