It used to be such a scandal. A woman would be sent away to either have her baby, or she'd quietly terminate her pregnancy with a doctor who would exercise discretion. Today, the topic is still one that plenty of people tiptoe over, and many women prefer to keep their abortions private (which, FYI, is totally OK). However, the subject is opening up, and many public figures have been bravely normalizing abortion in our culture.
What's considered "acceptable" in modern society changes slowly, but one of the ways it moves is through the influence of key public figures. Because of them, "abortion" isn't a whispered word anymore. Americans can see women who have had abortions on television without it being the "terrible secret" featured on soap operas and Dirty Dancing. More public figures and characters have been able to share their points of view and reasoning, combatting the judgmental attitudes that often circle the issue.
Pro-life and pro-choice advocates will probably never agree on every point, but openness about the topic can only be a good thing. These people have allowed the public to look at the facts instead of obtuse conjecture. Telling their stories provides more context and avoids stereotyping a very sensitive and debatable issue. Take a look at these eight figures who are normalizing abortion.
The hyper-successful female rapper has been known for being especially open. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Minaj admitted to having an abortion as a teenager. She said it was the right decision for her at the time, although she noted that it has "haunted me all my life."
Abortion has been a key topic in ShondaLand, the TV executive's company. Viewers saw Grey's Anatomy's Cristina Yang brave the medical and social complications of her two abortions and refuse to regret them. Reproductive rights have also been an important issue in Rhimes' Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder.
Johansson starred in a PSA for Planned Parenthood while the organization was suffering funding problems. She explained how Planned Parenthood provides low-income women with services such as STD testing, breast exams, and cervical cancer screenings at low cost.
Texas state representative Davis mentioned terminating two pregnancies in her memoir. One of the fetuses had a severe brain anomaly, she wrote, and the other was an ectopic pregnancy. The female politician famously fought for her cause by filibustering a restrictive abortion bill for 11 hours.
Paltrow is another famous lady who starred in a Planned Parenthood PSA. In it, she said, “I’m Gwyneth Paltrow, and I stand behind Planned Parenthood because of the access they give women to preventive health care, including screening for cancer and STDs.”
The Pearl Jam rock star published an article for Spin Magazine in which he discussed the abortion of his child. He wrote:
Ten years old. That's the age my child would have been. And I would not be here in Glasgow. I wouldn't be in this band or traveling. And I wouldn't have seen the liberal ways in which other countries we have visited deal with this issue. I wouldn't have been asked to write this piece. The fact that I've been through it on all levels is the only reason I accepted.
Richards, the head of Planned Parenthood, is, obviously, a hugely important figure in the pro-choice world. She has told the story of her own abortion in hopes of decreasing some of the stigma, according to Think Progress. She said:
I had an abortion. It was the right decision for me and my husband, and it wasn’t a difficult decision. Before becoming president of Planned Parenthood eight years ago, I hadn’t really talked about it beyond family and close friends. But I’m here to say, when politicians argue and shout about abortion, they’re talking about me — and millions of other women around the country.
Poehler publicly supported Planned Parenthood with a fundraising letter sent out in 2011. She said:
Think about every person out there who has nowhere else to go, nobody else to count on, nobody but Planned Parenthood. It's up to us to make sure Planned Parenthood is strong enough to protect their rights and their health. Especially because we are having a moment right now when people are trying to come up with new ways to make the lives of all the folks who rely on Planned Parenthood pretty difficult.
You can donate to Planned Parenthood here.
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