This Friday saw the Supreme Court officially overturn Roe v. Wade , in a landmark decision effectively reversing federal protection of abortion. The news prompted widespread condemnations from across Hollywood, with many notable celebrities decrying the limitation of abortion rights and people's right to choose.
Hollywood has long been vocal about the importance of abortion rights, with celebrities speaking out against attempts to limit reproductive rights in the United States. Rita Moreno shared a horrific story about her botched abortion procedure done before the 1973 law . In light of the decision made by the Supreme Court, we wanted to revisit important conversations Hollywood and activists have shared over a woman's right to chose.
During the 2016 Power of Women event, actor Scarlett Johansson was honored for her support of reproductive healthcare provider Planned Parenthood, saying the organization has "always been there for me and the 2.5 million men and women who rely on their services annually." She opened up about using Planned Parenthood services as a teenager, and spoke about the importance of protecting a women's right to choose.
"Planned Parenthood provides a safe and healthy environment to make some of the important decisions she will ever face in her life," Johansson said. "I'm not just talking about exercising her right to choose. I'm talking about making choices for her body and her family … as most of you know, Planned Parenthood has been under attack for many years now for another service they thankfully offer, for providing a safe place for legal abortions."
"A women's right to choose what to do with her body shouldn't just be a women's rights issue, it's the year 2016 and this is a human rights issue," Johansson continued. "A women's right to choose is a deeply personal one and should not be a part of anyone's political platform. It has nothing to do with politics in the slightest, it is about honoring and respecting women and about upholding the law … It is time we all stand united so this conversation is taken off the ballot, so to speak, and out of the mouths of politicians, remaining a private and personal one between a woman and her partner and her doctor and herself."
In a 2017 speech, actor Jessica Chastain spoke about the impact of abortion provider Planned Parenthood. During the speech, Chastain called the organization "Vital, and indispensable now more than ever." She opened up about her experiences with Planned Parenthood, saying that it was an important resource for her growing up.
"We need Planned Parenthood. As the daughter of a single mother in a low-income household, I am indebted to the organization. As I grew up, they made it financially possible and accessible for me to educate myself and make decisions about my health and my future," Chastain said. "Planned Parenthood is an incredible organization that makes it possible for a woman to have the equal opportunity of her male counterparts of having jurisdiction over her life her body and her health, and the knowledge to make necessary, personal choices."
Camila Cabello also leant her voice to speak out against the looming overturning of Roe v. Wade.
"It's atrocious," said Cabello. "Obviously it's going to affect poor women the most, because women that have resources — even like me — will be able to handle things if if they're needed. The idea of having one moment transform the course of a woman's life is tragic. And it's tragic [that] the people affected are not having a say."
Cabello also encouraged women to get involved, suggesting that they focus on "voting at the local level so that we have state and local legislators that are representing our interest is really important. Obviously, donating can make a difference. And also being loud and angry about it."
Paxton Smith went viral in 2021 when she used her valedictorian speech at her high school graduation to decry attacks against abortions from Texas Lawmakers, telling the audience "There is a war on my body and a war on my rights." During a speech almost a year later, after a leaked opinion draft revealed the Supreme Court plans to overturn Roe v. Wade, Smith spoke about the looming threat to abortion rights.
"In two months, abortion is going to be illegal or inaccessible in over half of the country," Smith, currently a freshman at the U. of Texas at Austin, said. "In my home state of Texas it will be criminalized, which means that people who provide abortions could go to prison."
In her speech, Smith addressed the importance of the entertainment industry and media in tackling abortion, saying that the efforts of media in telling stories of abortion goes a long way towards fighting the stigmatization of the procedure.
"The media business wields a lot of power in terms of controlling what people get to see," she said. "The stories of people getting abortions are not told enough when abortion is still so heavily stigmatized. If we really want to make any headway in terms of securing abortion rights, the first thing that we need to do is really show the fact that this is a normal procedure for people to have — one in four women has an abortion."
Smith also addressed why her valedictorian speech went viral, saying that her generation's voice on abortions rights isn't heard enough.
"We really don't hear enough from the people who will be most directly impacted if abortion is made illegal in parts of the country," she says. "It will be my generation that feels that change the most acutely."
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