Actress Uma Thurman reveals she had an abortion as teen; condemns Texas ban


Uma Thurman said she was 'accidentally impregnated by a much older man' while in her late teens and living in Europe, where she had embarked on a modelling career. Photo: AFP

American actress Uma Thurman, in a newspaper column criticising the near-total ban on abortion in Texas, revealed Wednesday (Sept 22) that she terminated a pregnancy as a teenager.

"It has been my darkest secret until now," the 51-year-old Hollywood star said in the op-ed published in The Washington Post.

"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 wrote.

The actress, who was nominated for an Academy Award for her role in the 1994 film Pulp Fiction, said the Texas abortion law, which went into force on Sept 1, "is a staging ground for a human rights crisis for American women".

"This law is yet another discriminatory tool against those who are economically disadvantaged," she said. "Women and children of wealthy families retain all the choices in the world, and face little risk."

The "Texas Heartbeat Act" bans abortion once a heartbeat can be detected, which usually occurs at six weeks -- before many women even know they are pregnant. It makes no exceptions for rape or incest.

The bill passed by Republican lawmakers in Texas, the country's second-largest state, allows members of the public to sue doctors who perform abortions after six weeks or anyone who facilitates the procedure.

Thurman said she was "grief-stricken" over a law that "pits citizen against citizen, creating new vigilantes who will prey on these disadvantaged women, denying them the choice not to have children they are not equipped to care for".

Recounting her own experience, Thurman said she was "accidentally impregnated by a much older man" while in her late teens and living in Europe, where she had embarked on a modelling career.

She said she discussed her options with her parents and "we decided as a family that I couldn't go through with the pregnancy, and agreed that termination was the right choice.

"My heart was broken nonetheless," she said.

She had the abortion in Cologne, Germany. "It hurt terribly, but I didn't complain," she said. "I had internalised so much shame that I felt I deserved the pain."

Thurman, who has three children, said "choosing not to keep that early pregnancy allowed me to grow up and become the mother I wanted and needed to be".

She said she was sharing her experience "in the hope of drawing the flames of controversy away from the vulnerable women on whom this law will have an immediate effect."

Thurman's revelation was welcomed by the National Women's Law Center.

"Thank you, Uma Thurman, for sharing your story," it tweeted.

The Justice Department has filed suit against Texas, arguing that the state law violates Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case in which the US Supreme Court guaranteed the right to an abortion so long as the fetus is not viable outside the womb, which is usually not until the 22nd to 24th week of pregnancy.

A Republican lawmaker in Florida on Wednesday introduced an abortion bill similar to the Texas law that would prohibit the procedure once a doctor detects a fetal heartbeat.

For procedural reasons, the Supreme Court declined to block the Texas law but it is to hear oral arguments on Dec 1 about a Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

It will be the first abortion case argued before the panel since former president Donald Trump nominated three conservative justices, shifting the court firmly to the right. – AFP

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