The actress, best known for her roles in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill, explained that as a teenager, she became pregnant by ‘a much older man’ while away from home and acting in Europe.
She wrote: ‘I started my acting career at 15, working in an environment where I was often the only kid in the room. 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. I wanted to keep the baby, but how?’
‘We decided as a family that I couldn’t go through with the pregnancy, and agreed that termination was the right choice. My 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. Choosing not to keep that early pregnancy allowed me to grow up and become the mother I wanted and needed to be.’
Thurman wrote the column in response to the new Texas law against abortion, which was passed by the state legislature in May and ban abortions when foetal cardiac activity is detected - well before most women even know they’re pregnant.
The star has described the law as a ‘human rights crisis’, saying that she has followed its implementation ‘with great sadness and something akin to horror’. Her decision to share her own story was done, she said, ‘in the hope of drawing the flames of controversy away from the vulnerable women on whom this law will have an immediate effect.’
‘The Texas abortion law was allowed to take effect without argument by the Supreme Court, which, due in no small part to its lack of ideological diversity, is a staging ground for a human rights crisis for American women. 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.’
‘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.’
In Texas, abortion providers are now prohibited from performing a procedure if they can detect foetal heart tones. Anyone who aids and abets an abortion under these circumstances - even the Uber driver who takes a pregnant woman to her appointment - can now be prosecuted. The law allows no exceptions for rape or incest.
Though the law is now in effect, it’s being challenged in court - let’s hope testimonies like Thurman’s go some way to reinstating women’s rights.
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