One in three women in the UK and the US will have an abortion in their life time. The prevailing stigma means only a tiny per cent of those women will ever feel able to discuss their decision openly.
The Glee actress Naya Rivera has used her platform to speak publicaly about having an abortion in a bid to tackle the stigma.
In an extract from her forthcoming memoir, Sorry Not Sorry, Rivera described how she found out she was pregnant with her husband Ryan Dorsey’s child in 2010 and chose to terminate the pregnancy a day before filming an episode of Glee.
Women on the front line of America's abortion war
“It was very scary to open up about everything,” she told People Magazine. “It's not something a lot of people talk about, but I think they should. I know some people might read it and say, 'What the Hell?' But I hope someone out there gets something out of it.”
Of the one in three women who decide to have an abortion, research shows 95 per cent of them do not regret it. Chelsea Handler is one woman with no regrets. In June, she wrote about terminating two pregnancies in a forthright essay for Playboy. The comedian explained why she is grateful that she could obtain safe, legal abortions on both occasions at the age of 16 after she “happened to f**k twice“ while many women are still unable to do so over three decades later.
“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," she wrote. "I’m 41 now. I don’t ever look back and think, God, I wish I’d had that baby."
Katherine O’Brien, Media and Public Policy Manager for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, said Rivera’s honesty will help further discourse surrounding abortion.
Ms O’Brien told the Independent: “Despite the fact that one in three women will have a termination in their lifetime, abortion sadly remains a highly stigmatised issue and many women feel unable to talk about their own experience for fear of being judged. So when a high-profile woman such as Naya Rivera makes the brave decision to speak out, this should be applauded.
“Hearing actresses, politicians, and musicians discuss their abortion openly helps to break down taboos and counters the idea that ending a pregnancy is something to be ashamed of. We hope that this will spark much needed discussions, and empower more women to speak about their own experiences.”
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