reproductive rights

Sexual-Assault Survivor Ashley Judd Gave a Moving Speech About Abortion at the DNC

Actress and political activist Ashley Judd.
Actress and political activist Ashley Judd. Photo: Pacific Press/Getty Images

Did you know that if you conceive a child as a result of rape, your rapist could still have parental rights? Twenty-three U.S. states currently require a conviction to terminate parental rights, including New York and California, while 15 states have no laws set in place at all. If you didn’t know, then Ashley Judd would like to make sure you do. She was at the DNC to say her piece about protecting a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion for exactly that reason.

“As you know, because I talk about it all the time, I am a survivor of sexual assault, including rape, and about that I have no shame,” Judd told the crowd at a NARAL “Men for Choice” event yesterday. “One of the things I discovered about myself is some of the aggressions I didn’t even identify as such until I continued to get healthier, until I continued to be educated about what I felt on the inside and what is legally right on the outside.”

She told the story of how one of the times she was raped, she conceived. She chose to terminate the pregnancy, but added, “if abortion had not been safe and legal at that time, I would have been forced to carry to term and deliver a child that was conceived in rape.” It’s a situation, Judd pointed out, that we often think only applies to Syrian refugees or oppressed women in the Ukraine.

“We are a great country, and rapists have paternity rights in 22 states, including the state in which I was raped and the state which my rapist is from,” Judd went on. In many of those states, parental rights can’t be terminated unless the attacker is convicted of sexual assault, which as we’ve seen lately is not always easy to achieve, even in the cases when women report their rapes, which in the majority of cases they do not.

It’s protecting her right to decide what to do with her body, Judd says of why she’s with Hillary Clinton, because she can’t imagine a world in which the law would have required her to make a different choice than she did. “I am very grateful to NARAL and Men for Choice for allowing me the dignity to make that excruciating decision for myself.”

Ashley Judd’s Moving DNC Speech on Abortion