Like many women who are still in college, broke, and generally figuring out where they want their lives to go, Jemima Kirke wasn't ready to start a family when she was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. So, when she became pregnant in 2007, Jemima Kirke got an abortion. In a new PSA for the Center for Reproductive Rights, the Girls star discusses the educated decision she made to terminate that pregnancy. Odds are, you know plenty of other girls who have shared the same experience.
At the age of 29, Kirke is a now mother of three (two of her own, and one step-daughter), but back when she was 21 and in college, Kirke remembers that she wasn't in a place that was "conducive to raising a healthy child." She wasn't sure she wanted to be eternally tethered to her current boyfriend, and she had the shaky finances of a college student. So, when she found out she was pregnant, she made the choice to not bring the pregnancy to term. Not wanting her mother to know (as many of us wouldn't), she paid for the procedure out of pocket, which liquidated her checking account. She had just enough to afford the procedure without anesthesia.
"It's the obstacles and this stigma that makes these things not completely unavailable, and that's the tricky part," says Kirke, "We do have free choice and we are able to do what we want, but then there are these hoops we have to jump through to get [abortions]." Through talking about her own experience, Kirke hopes to dispel some of that stigma and encourage a more open dialogue about reproductive rights.
Kirke's story is a familiar one for many women. If you haven't been in her shoes, odds are that you know or are close to someone who has. Even with the ubiquity of this experience, it still somehow carries a significant cultural taboo that leads women to not discuss their own abortions.
Being faced with having a child before you're ready is an all too common part of the experience of being a woman — especially a young woman who is still getting to know herself. The experience is made more difficult by the fact that one may not be financially or legally able to make the choice to end that pregnancy, depending on what your socioeconomic status is and where you live. Hence, there is often an illusion of choice, when in reality, there are a million obstacles engineered to keep women from fully exercising their civil liberties.
I don't want to apply the whole "she's so brave for sharing her story" tone to Kirke, because that would: a) be totally condescending; b) minimize her experience; c) give the cultural taboo around abortion value. However, I have to applaud her for being frank and emphasizing the political power women have in sharing stories pertaining to reproductive freedom. It's nothing short of baffling that part of the "luggage of being a female" involves your body being subject to federal and state legislation. We can hope the next generation of women won't be subject to the same injustice. But this generation has a social responsibility to end those injustices.