Abortion is a sensitive topic. We are not here to judge anyone if they did it, but to share insights from famous women who talked about their abortion, so that it may help the regular folks who did it, to feel less guilty.
1. Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin
The science fiction author had a abortion in 1950 at age 20, when she got pregnant with her college boyfriend, and she was of the opinion that if she has not aborted that unwanted child, she would would have been an “unwed mother” of a three-year-old in California, without work, with half an education, living off her parents, and nor met her husband and would have prevented three wanted children she had with him.
Her Quote – If I had not broken the law and aborted that life nobody wanted, they would have been aborted by a cruel, bigoted and senseless law. They would never have been born. This thought I cannot bear. (From her book, Words Are My Matter: Writings About Life and Books, 2000–2016 (2016)
2. Sharon Osbourne
The co-host of The Talk had a abortion at 17, when she lost her virginity and two months later she found out she was pregnant. She called it the biggest mistake of her life.
Her Quote – I would never recommend it to anyone because it comes back to haunt you. When I tried to have children, I lost three – I think it was because something had happened to my cervix during the abortion. After three miscarriages, they had to put a stitch in it. (In an interview to Daily Mail in 2004)
3. Sherri Shepherd
The remark made by the co-host of The View regarding abortion in 2008 sparked controversy. She was quoted as saying “I’ve had more abortions than I can count.” She later clarified her position, saying her remarks weren’t meant to be flippant but rather to inspire other women who may be dealing with guilt after abortions.
4. Sinead O'Connor
The eccentric singer had her first son, Jake, with her first husband, music producer John Reynolds in 1987. She later claimed that she was encouraged to have an abortion by a doctor and a record executive, but she refused and would give birth to her son. In 1991, O’Connor had an abortion after things did not work out with the father. She later wrote the song “My Special Child” about the experience.
5. Whoopi Goldberg
The Oscar winning actress opened out about her harrowing experience with a back-alley abortion in an essay for the book, The Choices We Made: Twenty-Five Women and Men Speak Out About Abortion. In that book, she spoke about using a coat hanger to terminate a pregnancy at age 14. She said she had had six or seven abortions by the age of 25 and that birth control pills failed to stop several of her pregnancies.
6. Catherine Deneuve
The French screen legend signed the Manifesto of the 343 in 1971. It was a French petition signed by 343 women “who had the courage to say, ‘I’ve had an abortion'”. It was an act of civil disobedience, since abortion was illegal in France, and by admitting publicly to having aborted, they exposed themselves to criminal prosecution. The manifesto was published in the social democratic French weekly magazine Le Nouvel Observateur on April 5, 1971. It paved the way to the adoption, in December 1974 and January 1975, of the “Veil law”, named for Health Minister Simone Veil, that repealed the penalty for voluntarily terminating a pregnancy during the first ten weeks, which was later extended to 12 weeks.
7. Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King
The tennis legend who is one of the first major sporting icon to come out as gay, had an abortion in 1971 which was made public by her then husband later in a Ms. magazine article, without consulting her. She revealed in a interview in 2018 that she had to present her case in front of a hospital committee and get her husband to sign a consent form for the procedure. She said that she decided to get an abortion because, “our lives were so complicated and unpredictable that I couldn’t imagine bringing up a child in such chaos.”
8. Ava Gardner
The star of Mogambo, had two abortions while she was married to Frank Sinatra. She had it to save her career or else the studios who were against their stars having babies, would penalize her.
Her Quote – “‘MGM had all sorts of penalty clauses about their stars having babies. If I had one, my salary would be cut off. So how could I make a living? MGM made all the arrangements for me to fly to London. Someone from the studio was with me all the time. The abortion was hush hush . . . very discreet.’” (Jane Ellen Wayne quoting Gardner in The Golden Girls of MGM)
9. Gloria Steinem
The women’s rights icon had an abortion in 1957. The procedure was performed by Dr. John Sharpe, a British physician, while it was still illegal. Years later, Steinem dedicated her memoir My Life on the Road (2015) to him. She wrote: “Dr. John Sharpe of London, who in 1957, a decade before physicians in England could legally perform an abortion for any reason other than the health of the woman, took the considerable risk of referring for an abortion a twenty-two-year-old American on her way to India. Knowing only that she had broken an engagement at home to seek an unknown fate, he said, ‘You must promise me two things. First, you will not tell anyone my name. Second, you will do what you want to do with your life.'”