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Opening up

Watch: Amy Brenneman shares her abortion story with the Supreme Court — and the world

By WITW Staff on February 29, 2016

Just two days before the Supreme Court is set to begin hearings in a contentious case over abortion rights in Texas, actress Amy Brenneman is speaking out about her experience with abortion. “I could never have imagined that a decision I made at age 21 would be such fodder for scrutiny today,” Brenneman marvels at the outset of an essay published in Cosmopolitan. But here she is revealing her personal story, because, as she notes, a former president of NARAL once surmised that the reproductive rights movement has lagged due to the dearth of personal stories in the marketplace of ideas. Brenneman has now done her part to change that, appearing in a video, in addition to the essay, produced by the Center for Reproductive Rights in which she talks openly about her abortion. The actress also has added her name and abortion story to the amicus brief being presented to the Supreme Court in the Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt case that the justices will begin hearing arguments for on Wednesday. She is one of more than a hundred women who are sharing their abortion stories with the nation’s higher court in an attempt to paint a picture of how the freedom to obtain an abortion helped them better control their bodies and the outcomes of their lives. Much is at stake in the case. Pro-choice advocates are challenging two restrictions in Texas law HB2, an omnibus anti-abortion bill passed in 2013. The restrictions being challenged require doctors to have admitting privileges with a local hospital in order to perform abortions, and require abortion clinics to essentially become mini hospitals. The law would force 900,000 Texas women to travel more than 150 miles to the nearest abortion clinic.

Brenneman goes into candid detail about the circumstances surrounding her abortion, which she had at age 21. She credits her parents’ open-mindedness as a source of encouragement, particularly her mother — a judge on whom she based the TV series Judging Amy.

“My abortion story is absolutely uneventful. It has left no scars,” she writes in the essay. “But in this current political climate, one in which a woman who makes the responsible choice of not bringing an unwanted child into this world is forced to drive 500 miles or is violently harassed on her way to the clinic door or is pushed to take matters into her own hands, this uneventful-ness seems downright miraculous.” Brenneman talks about being in college and in a relationship with a long-term boyfriend. She says the couple used birth control religiously, but she managed to still get pregnant. At the crux of her argument is the fact that her abortion was uneventful, like it is for so many women. “May it always be so uneventful,” she concludes. “May abortion once again be accepted for what it always has been: a necessary component of responsible family planning.”

Read the full essay at Cosmopolitan.


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