25 Celebrities Who Have Shared Their Abortion Stories to Help End the Stigma

“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.”

1 of 26

Hannah Gadsby

The Australian comedian shared her stance on Alabama’s controversial abortion law before revealing that she had an abortion after surviving rape.

“They’re getting away with it because they’ve got into the branding really well. It’s not ‘pro-life,’” she said during her 2019 Variety Pride Issue cover story. “What a stupid f—ing statement! I’m ‘pro-life,’ but I had an abortion. That sits very comfortably in my head as a duality.”

“Had I been in that state, under these laws, under these politics at that time in my life, I would be dead. It’s as simple as that,” Gadsby continued. “I was assaulted, raped, and very, very vulnerable. How was I going to raise a child? I would have ended up dead. How is that pro-life? You can’t say women can’t have abortions and then provide absolutely no infrastructure to help them.”

2 of 26

Keke Palmer

Palmer said she felt “disheartened” about the newly passed law in Alabama that effectively bans abortion.

The actress tweeted that she decided to get an abortion because it was not a good time in her life to raise a child.

“I was worried about my career responsibilities and afraid that I could not exist as both a career woman and mother,” she tweeted, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Palmer has since deleted the tweet, and explained that the topic may have been too nuanced to express on Twitter.

“Twitter is sometimes too flat and too short to express intimate sentiments. Words without context, very annoying,” she wrote in a new tweet. “I am disheartened about hearing the news in Alabama. I feel as if women rights laws are going backwards. Individual choice is being taken. I’m truly so confused at the world [right now] and the policies that follow.”

Palmer also added #YouKnowMe to the end of her tweet, the hashtag Busy Philipps started to encourage women to share their abortion stories.

The Berlin Station star also said that her or anyone else’s decision to have an abortion does not affect their religious beliefs.

“Making individual choices is not a betrayal to your faith,” she said. “Mainly, because God knows your heart and your journey. God never judges. I hate that it’s always a this vs that, instead of an ‘I understand YOUR PERSPECTIVE.’”

3 of 26

April Love Geary

The model, who has two kids with fiancé Robin Thicke, said she decided to speak out after getting critical messages on Instagram.

“I’ve been getting a bunch of DMs saying things like ‘how could you support abortion when you’re a mother yourself’ so this is MY body, MY body after having an abortion in 2014, a miscarriage in 2017, delivering a baby in 2018 and 2019,” she wrote, along with a photo of her stomach. “I’m glad I was able to make decisions about MY body without facing any type of punishment.”

4 of 26

Linsey Godfrey

After Busy Philipps created the #youknowme hashtag to encourage people to share their abortion stories in order to bring awareness to the fact that 1 in 4 women under 45 have had the procedure, The Bold and the Beautiful‘s Godfrey used the hashtag to tell her story.

“I had an abortion. I just simply wasn’t in a place, financially or emotionally to take that on,” the actress revealed on Twitter. “I was and still am glad I had that choice because that’s exactly what it was, it was my choice, my body.”

5 of 26

Amber Tamblyn

The actress and author also used the hashtag to share her own story.

“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.”

6 of 26

Tess Holliday

The model not only used the #youknowme hashtag to share her story, but she also used it to highlight how abortions affect communities beyond cis women and heterosexual couples.

“I’m from Mississippi, living in California, married with 2 kids, & I had an abortion,” Holliday wrote on Instagram.

“My mental health couldn’t handle being pregnant again & I made the best decision for ME & ultimately my family,” she added, later mentioning that the majority of abortions in Alabama in 2017 were sought by women in relationships, who were already parents at the time.

Holliday also quoted friend and performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon to remind her followers that abortions affect more people than just women.

“Abortion is a queer issue. Abortion is a trans issue. Abortion is a non-binary issue,” the quote stated. “A lot of people still mistakenly believe that only cis women & heterosexual people can get pregnant / have abortions & this rhetoric erases queer women, trans men, and non-binary people who have a disproportionately difficult time accessing abortions.”

She ended her post with the hashtag, “#abortionisahumanright”

7 of 26

Minka Kelly

In response to Alabama’s new controversial abortion law, which bans nearly all abortions, including for victims of rape or incest, Kelly wrote a lengthy Instagram post to share her story and to call out every member of the Alabama state senate who voted for the bill for not doing enough to protect women.

“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.”

The actress continued her note by asking the senators, “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?”

Kelly maintained her stance that women’s “lives, traumas & family planning is for no one to decide but us” and asserted that if men’s bodies, health and life were called into question, “we wouldn’t be having this conversation in the first place.”

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.”

8 of 26

Busy Philipps

On an episode of Busy Tonight, the 39-year-old late-night host shared her experience with abortion in response to the signing of Georgia’s controversial new abortion law.

“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 while getting visibly emotional.

“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.

This isn’t the first time Philipps has talked about her abortion: the actress previously opened up about it in her memoir This Will Only Hurt a Little, which was published last fall.

9 of 26

Jameela Jamil

Jamil shared her story on Twitter, also in response to the Georgia bill.

“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.”

10 of 26

Milla Jovovich

The actress shared her story on Instagram in May 2019 as a response to the Georgia bill, too.  

“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.”

“I spiraled into one of the worst depressions of my life and had to work extremely hard to find my way out,” she continued. “I took time off of my career. I isolated myself for months and had to keep a strong face for my two amazing kids.”

“Abortion is a nightmare at its best. No woman wants to go through that. But we have to fight to make sure our rights are preserved to obtain a safe one if we need to,” she said. “I never wanted to speak about this experience. But I cannot remain silent when so much is at stake. #prochoice #prochoicegeneration.”

11 of 26

Nicki Minaj

In a 2014 interview with Rolling Stone, the rapper said she thought she “was going to die” when she discovered she was pregnant as a teen.

“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.”

She alluded to the experience in a track on her album, The Pinkprint.

12 of 26

Joan Collins

The Dynasty star opened up about why she never regretted having an abortion after she got pregnant in her mid-20s with then-fiancé Warren Beatty.

“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.

13 of 26

Whoopi Goldberg

The View‘s Goldberg wrote about her teenage abortion experience in an essay for Angela Bonavoglia’s The Choices We Made.

“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.”

14 of 26

Chelsea Handler

In a personal essay for Playboy‘s “Freedom Issue,” Handler opened up about two abortions she had at age 16.

As a teen, Handler said she got pregnant after having unprotected sex with her boyfriend. “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 recognized that, so they acted like parents for one of the very first times in my life and took me to Planned Parenthood.”

In a new revelation, she explained that she got pregnant once again later that year and was barely able to afford another $230, the cost of an abortion at 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.”

15 of 26

Margaret Cho

The comedian has included the topic of abortion in her standup routines in the past, but now she’s revealing why.

“I talk a lot about abortion and people get really freaked out. I’m not even making a political statement. I’m just talking about what happened! I have had them and I want to talk about them,” she told XOJane, as reported by Fortune. “I don’t care what your views are toward abortion, I just think women should be talking about it.”

She also added, “If males had to have abortions, it would be something that was routinely discussed and the emotional life of it would be really examined.”

16 of 26

Gloria Steinem

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.”

17 of 26

Sharon Osbourne

Studies show that the majority of abortions are safe and effective, with rare complications, but The Talk cohost has said “something happened” during the procedure she had when she was 17 that has come back to “haunt” her.

“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 realizing two months in that she was pregnant and without hesitation, her mother responded, “You have to get rid of it.”

“She told me where the clinic was, then virtually pushed me off. She was so angry. She said I’d got myself in this mess, now she had to get me out,” Osbourne continued.

“But she didn’t come. I went alone. I was terrified. It was full of other young girls, and we were all terrified and looking at each other and nobody was saying a bloody word. I howled my way through it, and it was horrible,” she added.

“I would never recommend it to anyone because it comes back to haunt you. When I tried to have children, I lost three — I think it was because something had happened to my cervix during the abortion. After three miscarriages, they had to put a stitch in it.”

She concluded her story by saying, “In life, whatever it is, you pay somewhere down the line. You have to be accountable.”

18 of 26

Sherri Shepherd

In a heated debate over abortion on The View, Shepherd got real with her cohosts to explain why women need to have the option if their circumstances are not right to raise a child.

“I’m speaking as a girl who has had a lot of abortions, and if they had showed me a fetus, I probably wouldn’t have but I would have put my child in a lot of situations that wouldn’t have been good because I didn’t have the mental capacity to deal with having a child,” she said.

19 of 26

Billie Jean King

Before her career took off, the tennis champion opened up about why she had an abortion during a hectic and confusing time in her life.

“The reason I had an abortion is because I was not in a good place,” she explained during an interview with Makers. “I was just finding out about my sexuality. I was trying to figure my life out. I was trying to get the tour started. I just did not want to bring a baby into the world.”

King added, “If you bring a child into the world, then to me, he or she takes, they’re first, that’s it, done. I did not want the child to be born under the circumstances I was in.”

20 of 26

Jemima Kirke

The artist and actress shared her story about having an abortion while in college, in support of Draw The Line, a campaign by the Centre for Reproductive Rights.

“In 2007, I became pregnant with my boyfriend at the time. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to be attached to this person for the rest of my life. My life was just not condusive to raising a healthy, happy child. I just didn’t feel it was fair,” she said. “So, I decided to get an abortion and I went to Planned Parenthood in Providence, Rhode Island, where I was at school.”

Kirke continued to explain how she had to empty her checking account to pay for the abortion and how the experience made her realize the importance of being able to talk about reproductive issues freely.

“I still see shame and embarrassment around terminating pregnancies, getting pregnant, I still see it,” she said. “So I have always been open about my stories, especially with other women.”

21 of 26

Vanessa Williams

The actress went on Nightline to discuss You Have No Idea, her 2013 joint memoir with her mother Helen. During the interview, Williams revealed two secrets she kept from her mother, up until they started writing the book together.

The first was that she was molested by an older girl; the  next was that she had gotten pregnant in high school.

“Being pregnant is the most frightening thing that happens in your life,” Williams said. “I knew in high school that’s something that I was not prepared to do, or fight, or struggle with.”

22 of 26

Stevie Nicks

For years, the singer was at the center of rumors 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.

23 of 26

Lil’ Kim

In 2000, the rapper told The Washington Post she had an abortion and wrote about it in her song “Hold On.”

“Most of the things that I talk about [in my lyrics], yeah, they’re true … I talk about the pain of being pregnant and having an abortion,” she told The Washington Post. “I talk about the things that women have gone through that they don’t think I’ve gone through.” 

The lyrics to the song, rumored to be about her relationship with the late Biggie Smalls, include “I believed that meeting you would be my destiny. Your love would come to set me free, so why am I left standing here alone. Won’t you please come and take me home.”

24 of 26

Naya Rivera

The former Glee star penned an essay for USA Today to discuss the story behind her abortion and why she decided to write about it in her 2016 memoir, Sorry Not Sorry: Dreams, Mistakes, and Growing Up.

“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 counseling women through their decision to terminate their pregnancies,” and her mother, who was also involved in everything from counseling to sterilizing equipment.

25 of 26

Rose McGowan

In March, McGowan replied to a Twitter account that shared the statistic that “1 in 4 women has an abortion by age 45,” to share her own story.

“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 realized 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.”

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