Uma Thurman Reflects on Having An Abortion As a Teen

Uma Thurman Photo: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Actor Uma Thurman has been following the fallout from the most recent attempt to gut abortion access in Texas, and she is filled with — in her own words — “great sadness, and something akin to horror.” On Tuesday, Thurman published an op-ed in the Washington Post, documenting her own abortion experience “in the hope of drawing the flames of controversy away from the vulnerable women on whom this law will have an immediate effect” and “stand[ing] up in their shoes.”

“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,” she writes, “but it was the path to the life full of joy and love that I have experienced.” She added: “Choosing not to keep that early pregnancy allowed me to grow up and become the mother I wanted and needed to be.”

Thurman writes that, in her late teens, she got an abortion in Germany after being “accidentally impregnated by a much older man.” At the time, she was trying to launch her career and also “living out of a suitcase in Europe.” Though she wanted to keep the pregnancy, speaking with her parents convinced her she wasn’t ready for a baby. “I lay awake on the table while the doctor, who was a kind man, explained every step of the process as it happened,” she wrote. “It hurt terribly, but I didn’t complain. I had internalized so much shame that I felt I deserved the pain.”

Decades later, Thurman is the mother of three children, and outraged to see legislators enable vigilantes to “prey on” abortion patients for cash. Which … yes: We are talking about a law that eliminates the possibility of choice before many people even realize they have one to make. As of September 1, S.B. 8 has banned abortions in Texas past the point of fetal cardiac activity — typically, around six weeks — and incentivized anyone who doesn’t work for the government to enforce the law. Private citizens inside and outside the state are encouraged to sue those suspected of “aiding and abetting” abortion in return for a minimum of $10,000 in damages. So far, the measure is having its intended effect, shuttering providers and prompting them to send patients to neighboring states. The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against Texas, as well as an emergency request for a temporary injunction, to block the law, but in the meantime, chaos reigns.

Thurman notes that people “might not be interested in the opinions of an actress,” but she can nonetheless empathize with the situation Texans may now find themselves in. “I can assure you that no one finds herself on that table on purpose,” she writes. Acknowledging that people from “wealthy families retain all the choices in the world, and face little risk,” Thurman emphasized her solidarity with all those who feel “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.”

Read the full op-ed here.

Uma Thurman Reflects on Having an Abortion As a Teen