In a column for the Washington Post, actor Uma Thurman shares her personal experience having an abortion as a teenager, while also condemning the abortion law recently enacted in Texas. In the op-ed, the Pulp Fiction actor hopes that in sharing her story “some light will shine through, reaching women and girls who might feel a shame that they can’t protect themselves from and have no agency over.”
The Texas law (Senate Bill 8) bans abortion after six weeks, which is before many women even know they’re pregnant. The state also encourages a form of vigilante justice, where anyone who helps an individual seeking an abortion can face legal repercussions, including private citizens, doctors, and even ride share drivers. A person can file a lawsuit against an abortion provider whether they have a connection to the woman who received an abortion or not. If an individual is successful in suing an abortion provider, they will be awarded a minimum $10,000. The bill does not allow exceptions for pregnancies that are the result of incest or rape. Following the enactment of the bill, the Supreme Court sought no challenge, opening the door for other conservative states to pass their own bills.
“This law is yet another discriminatory tool against those who are economically disadvantaged, and often, indeed, against their partners,” Thurman writes in her piece. “Women and children of wealthy families retain all the choices in the world, and face little risk. I am grief-stricken, as well, that the law 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, or extinguishing their hopes for the future family they might choose.”
Thurman goes on to share her “darkest secret” in the column: That she received an abortion as a teenager, a few years into her acting career.
“I started my acting career at 15, working in an environment where I was often the only kid in the room,” she writes. “In my late teens, I was accidentally impregnated by a much older man. I was living out of a suitcase in Europe, far from my family, and about to start a job. I struggled to figure out what to do.”
Far from home, she called her parents to go over her options, and they decided as a family the best option was to terminate the pregnancy. Thurman says her “heart was broken nonetheless.”
“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 recounts. “Choosing not to keep that early pregnancy allowed me to grow up and become the mother I wanted and needed to be.”
Thurman went on to become one of the most iconic actors of the ‘90s following her role in Quentin Tarantino’s neo-noir film Pulp Fiction, before moving on to star in the director’s Kill Bill films. The 51-year-old actor now has three children, daughters Maya Hawke, Luna, and son Levon Roan, who she calls her “pride and joy.”
She closes her letter with a message to all those facing the law in Texas. “To all of you—to women and girls of Texas, afraid of being traumatized and hounded by predatory bounty hunters; to all women 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. You are beautiful. You remind me of my daughters.”