Uma Thurman has railed against the “horror” of Texas’s draconian new abortion law and called for the ban to be lifted, as she opened up about an abortion she had as a teenager.
Writing for the Washington Post, the actor described her abortion publicly for the first time, calling it her “darkest secret”. She wrote about how she was “accidentally impregnated by a much older man” in her late teens and decided to terminate the pregnancy.
She said she was sharing her personal experience “in the hope of drawing the flames of controversy away from vulnerable women on whom this law will have an immediate effect”.
The Republican-backed law, which was passed by the state legislature in May and came into force earlier this month, is one of the most extreme abortion laws in the US, effectively outlawing almost all abortions in Texas.
Abortion providers in the state have warned that the law will create nearly insurmountable obstacles for vulnerable populations including teenagers, low-income people, and people of color, including undocumented immigrants. About 70% of abortions in Texas in 2019 were provided to women of color, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
The law bans abortions once medical professionals can detect embryonic cardiac activity, which is typically around six weeks into a pregnancy – long before many women are even aware they are pregnant. It allows no exceptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest, and only makes narrowly defined exemptions to protect the mother’s health.
It also empowers any private citizen to sue an abortion provider who violates it, opening the floodgates to harassing and frivolous lawsuits from anti-abortion vigilantes that could eventually shutter most clinics in the state.
In the impassioned op-ed, Thurman said she had watched the law’s passing with “great sadness” and “something akin to horror”.
The actor lambasted Texas’s ban as “a staging ground for a human rights crisis for American women”.
She wrote: “This law is yet another discriminatory tool against those who are economically disadvantaged, and often, indeed, against their partners. Women and children of wealthy families retain all the choices in the world, and face little risk.”
She went on: “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.”
The Pulp Fiction star told of how she started her acting career young and was alone in Europe, far away from her family and living out of a suitcase, when she found herself pregnant at the age of 15.
Though she wanted to keep the baby, after discussions with her family she decided it would be the right choice to have an abortion. This was for a number of reasons, she wrote, including being unable to provide a stable home at that time in her life.
Thurman described the “shame” she internalised as she went through with the procedure, adding: “There is so much pain in this story. It has been my darkest secret until now.
“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. Choosing not to keep that early pregnancy allowed me to grow up and become the mother I wanted and needed to be.”
Thurman, who has since had three children, said she was speaking out in the hope that “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 law is in effect now being challenged in court after the Biden administration formally asked a federal judge to block its enforcement.