These stars opened up about having abortions.
Jemima Kirke of the nepotist haven that is HBO's Girls recently opened up about having an abortion.
Kirke stars in a new public service announcement for the Center for Reproductive Rights, delivering a candid and simultaneously heartbreaking and hopeful story of terminating her pregnancy.
"In 2007, I became pregnant with my boyfriend at the time," Kirke, who is now married with a two-year-old of her own, says. "I wasn't sure that I wanted to be attached to this person for the rest of my life. My life just was not conducive to raising a healthy, happy child. I just didn't feel it was fair. So, I decided to get an abortion."
Kirke goes into deep, personal details of the experience in hopes of creating a conversation about the preservation and importance of a woman's right to choose what to do with her own body, as well as to try eliminating the stigma that comes with having an abortion. And the onscreen Jessa isn't alone: Many other celebrities have come forward and spoken out about not just abortion in general, but about their own experiences ending their own pregnancies. Here are their stories.
1. Jemima Kirke
In a PSA for the Center for Reproductive Rights, Girls star Jemima Kirke confesses to having an abortion in secret after getting pregnant by her then-boyfriend in 2007, when she was 22. Because she felt couldn't tell her parents about the situation, she also couldn't borrow money from them — so she had to terminate her pregnancy without anesthesia, which was more than she could afford.
2. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj told Rolling Stone she had an abortion in high school. "I thought I was going to die," the rapper confessed. "It was the hardest thing I have ever gone through ... It has haunted me all my life." Minaj also touches on the topic in her song "All Things Go" with the lyric "My child with Aaron would've been sixteen any minute."
3. Chelsea Handler
“I had an abortion when I was 16," Chelsea Handler told The New York Times, "because that’s what I should have done. Otherwise I would now have a 20-year-old kid.”
4. Vanessa Williams
5. Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem was very frank about her abortion in an interview with The Guardian. "It's supposed to make us a bad person, but I must say, never felt that. I used to sit and try and figure out how old the child would be, trying to make myself feel guilty," she said. "But I never could ... Speaking for myself, I knew it was the first time I had taken responsibility for my own life. I wasn't going to let things happen to me. I was going to direct my life, and therefore it felt positive. But still, I didn’t tell anyone."
6. Sinead O'Connor
Oft-troubled singer Sinead O'Connor had an abortion when she was 22. "I think people don't necessarily understand, because they haven't had the experience, that to decide to terminate a pregnancy is probably the most difficult decision a woman would have to make," she said in an interview. "It was a planned pregnancy, which I was very happy about. I was completely in love with the father of the child, but things didn't work out between us and we were both unhappy. It was too much for him to be able to handle. He was young  and I was on tour and I was feeling ill all the time because I was pregnant and I was feeling so awful and I made the decision that it would be better for everybody if I had the abortion." She adds, "I didn't have a sense of guilt about the abortion. If I had had the child, I wouldn't have been in any state to be the mother that child would have deserved. It wouldn't have worked that way. As far as I'm concerned, that child's spirit is gone and perhaps some day it will return." O'Connor wrote the song "My Special Child" about the experience and donated the proceeds to charity.
7. Toni Braxton
Toni Braxton revealed in her memoir Unbreak My Heart that she had an abortion in 2001. The Grammy winner wrote, "I was suddenly faced with a choice I'd never thought I'd have to make. Amid my major misgivings about abortion, I eventually made the gut-wrenching decision." Braxton, who was raised in a strict religious household, added, "In my heart, I believed I had taken a life — an action that I thought God might one day punish me for … My initial rage was quickly followed by another strong emotion: guilt ... believed God's payback was to give my son [Diezel Ky Braxton-Lewis, now 12] autism." Oy.
8. Sharon Osbourne
"I had an abortion at 17 and it was the worst thing I ever did," Sharon Osbourne told The Daily Mail. "It was the first time I'd had sex ... I was two months gone when I realized. I went to my mum and she said, without pausing for breath: 'You have to get rid of it.'" Osbourne continues, "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. 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 ... 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. In life, whatever it is, you pay somewhere down the line. You have to be accountable."
9. Lil' Kim
Lil' Kim reportedly got an abortion when she got pregnant by Notorious B.I.G. when she was 18 — while Biggie was married to Faith Evans.
10. Billie Jean King
Tennis legend Billie Jean King terminated a pregnancy before coming out as a lesbian. She told Makers, "The reason I had an abortion is because I was not in a good place. 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.”
11. Maureen McCormick
The Brady Bunch star Maureen McCormick has a much harder time adjusting to life than her onscreen counterpart Marcia ("Marcia Marcia Marcia!") Brady. In her memoir, Here's The Story, McCormick details drug abuse, wanting her onscreen brother to take her virginity, and abortions she got as a result of having sex for drugs. "I was 18, 19 and 20 when I had each abortion," she said while promoting the book. "... It shows what drugs did to me and how far I went. I was not aware of the things going on in my life. Playing Marcia, I always had to be perfect ... I always felt I had to be perfect for the public. Now I know I don’t — I can just be me."
12. Sherri Shepherd
Sherri Shepherd got emotional on The View when debating abortion law with her co-hosts, primarily the conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck, pointing out that the same people who oppose abortion often also oppose welfare, food stamps, and other financial assistance that mothers who can't afford to have children could use in lieu of terminating their pregnancies. "We stop at the picket signs and we don't help you past that! I'm speaking as a girl who had a lot of abortions and I swear to God, if they had shown me a picture of the fetus... 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."
13. Penny Marshall
In her memoir My Mother Was Nuts, Penny Marshall detailed an unplanned pregnancy with a college sweetheart. They tied the knot, but it didn't last, and Marshall terminated the pregnancy. She told CNN, "I didn't want to be tied to the kid's (biological) father. And that situation was one of my life's only big regrets."
14. Margaret Cho
Margaret Cho told XOJane, "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. I don't care what your views are toward abortion, I just think women should be talking about it."
15. Whoopi Goldberg
Whoopi Goldberg opened up about her own back-alley abortion in an essay for the book The Choices We Made by Angela Bonavoglia. "I found out I was pregnant when I was fourteen. I didn't get a period. I talked to nobody. I panicked," The View host wrote. "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."
16. Joan Collins
Joan Collins is open about the abortion she had while dating Warren Beatty. She told The Daily Mail, "It would have been unthinkable to have a child. 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 ... I know I made the right decision."
17. Kathy Najimy
Actress Kathy Najimy's experience with her own abortion is part of why she's outspoken about the need for a woman's right to choose. In a personal, candid speech for Planned Parenthood in 2003, Najimy says, "I have to say my circumstances are unusual in that there were no unusual circumstances. Because of Roe v. Wade, I was entitled to a safe and legal abortion. I knew that my situation was rare … I was part of an elite, privileged group and that my choice was only possible because of the treacherous, hard-won battle of those who came before me. Not only those who fought the battle for my right to choose, but also those thousands of women — mothers, sisters, and daughters — who could not exercise that right in safety and freedom, who literally lost their lives in illegal, non-safe abortions. I knew and I know that my situation was Disneyland compared to that of others."
18. Kathleen Hanna
Singer Kathleen Hanna had an abortion as a teen and credits it for her success. Really. "Well, I worked at McDonald’s and I spent the money I earned at McDonald’s to get my abortion," she says. "I was only 15 and the person who got me pregnant did not want to give me any money. I was $40 short, so I had my drug dealer call him and threaten him, so he gave me the last $40. I really credit it as something that changed my life because I got a job, I took care of my business, and I moved on. And I’m not one of those people who’d have looked back and been like, 'Oh, that kid would be 30 right now' … I don’t think, 'Oh, I really regret it' … it was one of the best things that happened to me. Not actually being on the table and having it done, but feeling like I was responsible for my own life and realizing that when I made mistakes, there were consequences and that I could take care of those consequences. I could make mistakes and I could fix them. And live with them. It wasn’t a big deal."