In response to the Texas ban on abortion, Uma Thurman penned an Op-Ed essay for The Washington Post revealing an abortion she had as a teenager. In the headline, the Kill Bill actress referred to the Texas abortion ban as “a human rights crisis for American women.”
“I have followed the course of Texas’s radical antiabortion law with great sadness, and something akin to horror,” she wrote. “You might not be interested in the opinions of an actress, but given this new outrage, I feel it is my responsibility to stand up in their shoes.”
The actress hopes her story will help women affected by the ban. She also wants to educate people who support the ban.
Uma Thurman revealed that when she was a teenager, she was accidentally impregnated by a much older man while trying to start her acting career in Europe.
She called home, and her parents spoke about her options. “We had never spoken about sex before,” she said. “This was the first time, and it was terrible for all of us.”
Her parents, “warned me how difficult it would be to raise a baby as a teen on my own,” Uma said. “My childish fantasy of motherhood was soundly corrected.”
“We decided as a family that I couldn’t go through with the pregnancy, and agreed that termination was the right choice,” she recalled. “My heart was broken nonetheless.”
The new Texas ban on abortion outlawed all abortions after six weeks of women becoming pregnant, which many experts testified is usually not enough time for women to know if they are pregnant.
The law passed in May when the Supreme Court remained silent to stop it, and gives private citizens the right to report and sue any person or clinic they believe to be involved with the now-illegal procedure.
“I lay awake on the table while the doctor, who was a kind man, explained every step of the process as it happened,” Uma Thurman remembered. “It hurt terribly, but I didn’t complain. I had internalized so much shame that I felt I deserved the pain.”
She called the event her “darkest secret until now.” Her statements spoke to the emotionally damaging culture that has permeated around the procedure for years, forcing many women to internalize heavy shame for aborting unwanted pregnancies.
“The abortion I had as a teenager was the hardest decision of my life, one that caused me anguish then and that saddens me even now, but it was the path to the life full of joy and love that I have experienced,” she said. “Choosing not to keep that early pregnancy allowed me to grow up and become the mother I wanted and needed to be.”
“I have nothing to gain from this disclosure, and perhaps much to lose,” Uma Thurman said of why she chose to reveal her story. “In revealing the hole that this decision carved in me, I hope that some light will shine through, reaching women and girls who might feel a shame that they can’t protect themselves from and have no agency over. I can assure you that no one finds herself on that table on purpose.”
This isn’t the first time Uma Thurman has spoken candidly about her personal challenges when she was a young woman. In a 2018 Op-Ed for The New York Times Uma spoke with journalist Maureen Dowd about her experience working with Harvey Weinstein.
“To all of you,” Uma Thurman’s Washington Post Op-Ed concluded. “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.”
Women’s rights groups and politicians are currently looking for avenues to challenge the Texas ban in court.