Actor and advocate Busy Philipps gave a passionate, deeply personal testimony at a House Judiciary subcommittee hearing on Tuesday about threats to reproductive rights in America. She spoke about her own abortion experience — and was unfazed by a conservative lawmaker who grilled her on the subject.
Philipps, who was among several women on both sides of the abortion debate who spoke at the hearing, has been at the forefront of a movement to protest recent clamp-downs on reproductive rights in Georgia and Alabama. She revealed on her E! late-night talk show that she had an abortion when she was 15, and later took to Twitter to ask women to share their abortion stories using the hashtag #YouKnowMe, prompting thousands of responses.
1 in 4 women have had an abortion. Many people think they don't know someone who has, but #youknowme. So let's do this: if you are also the 1 in 4, let's share it and start to end the shame. Use #youknowme and share your truth.
— Busy Philipps (@BusyPhilipps) May 15, 2019
Philipps said during the subcommittee hearing that while getting an abortion in 1994 was not a decision she made lightly, she has “never for a moment doubted that it was the right decision,” according to CBS News. She added, “But so much has changed—in Arizona and other states—since then.”
She continued, “If I were that 15-year-old girl in Arizona today, legally I would have to get parental consent. I would be forced to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound, to go to a state-mandated in-person counseling, designed solely to shame me into changing my mind, then take a state-mandated 24-hour time out to make sure I really knew what I wanted. And finally, I would be forced to give the state a reason why. Well, here is mine: My body belongs to me, not the state. Women and their doctors are in the best position to make informed decisions about what is best for them. No one else.”
The subcommittee also heard from Melissa Ohden, a pro-life advocate who learned as a teenager that she was a survivor of a botched abortion. After Ohden spoke, Texas Republican Representative Louie Gohmert, who is also pro-life, asked Philipps if she would agree that “somebody who has survived an abortion, like Melissa Ohden, has a right once she’s born, to life, to control over her body where someone else doesn’t take her life?”
“Although I played a doctor on television, sir, I am actually not a physician,” Philipps responded, per CNN. She stressed that this was an important point. “I don’t believe that a politician’s place is to decide what’s best for a woman — it’s a choice between a woman and her doctor,” Philipps explained.
She would not relent when Gohmert pressed the issue. “I just wondered how far your feeling about that went,” he said. “Because once [Ohden] is born, would you agree that she is a person in being?”
“I’m not speaking about birth, sir,” Philipps replied. “I’m speaking about abortion.”