Like millions of other Americans, Uma Thurman is incensed over Texas’ new near-total abortion ban. So much so, that the Oscar-nominated actor wrote a deeply personal op-ed for The Washington Post, in which she declared the new ruling “a human rights crisis for American women” and shared what she called her “darkest secret”: that at the age of 15, she had an abortion.
I started my acting career at 15, working in an environment where I was often the only kid in the room. In my late teens, I was accidentally impregnated by a much older man. I was living out of a suitcase in Europe, far from my family, and about to start a job. I struggled to figure out what to do. I wanted to keep the baby, but how?
I telephoned home. My mother was gravely ill in the hospital. My father went to her bedside to discuss my options. We had never spoken about sex before; this was the first time, and it was terrible for all of us. They asked me about the status of my relationship—it was not viable—and warned me how difficult it would be to raise a baby as a teen on my own. My childish fantasy of motherhood was soundly corrected as I weighed answers to their very precise questions. I was just starting out in my career and didn’t have the means to provide a stable home, even for myself. We decided as a family that I couldn’t go through with the pregnancy, and agreed that termination was the right choice. My heart was broken nonetheless.
Thurman went on to share the details of the procedure itself, noting that, “It hurt terribly, but I didn’t complain. I had internalized so much shame that I felt I deserved the pain.” But one of her most vivid memories was of the kindness she was shown by the doctor who performed the abortion.
“My fingers were tightly locked across my chest, and when the procedure was done the doctor looked down at me said, ‘You have beautiful hands—you remind me of my daughter.’ That single gesture of humanity is seared in my mind as one of the most compassionate moments I have ever experienced. In his eyes, I was a person, I was a daughter, I was still a girl.”
Thurman, now 51 and a mother of three children, said that while the decision hurts, she knows it was the right one for her, because it “allowed me to grow up and become the mother I wanted and needed to be.” She went on to state that “I have nothing to gain from this disclosure, and perhaps much to lose,” but to let other girls and women who find themselves in this impossible situation know that she understands—and that “no one finds herself on that table on purpose.”
To Thurman, Texas’ decision to pass this abortion ban—without involving the Supreme Court—is yet another “discriminatory tool against those who are economically disadvantaged, and often, indeed, against their partners.”
She concluded her thoughts by offering the same words that helped her so many years ago:
“To all of you—to women and girls of Texas, afraid of being traumatized and hounded by predatory bounty hunters; to all women outraged by having our bodies’ rights taken by the state; and to all of you who are made vulnerable and subjected to shame because you have a uterus—I say: I see you. Have courage. You are beautiful. You remind me of my daughters.”
(Via The Washington Post)