“When I got pregnant at the age of 16, getting an abortion wasn’t the first idea that popped into my unripened brain.”
That’s how comedian Chelsea Handler begins her recent essay in Playboy on her personal experience with abortion. Handler writes that she was having unprotected sex with her boyfriend at the time, who she describes as not someone she should’ve been having sex with, “never mind unprotected sex,” she said.
When she became pregnant at 16, Handler’s parents brought her to Planned Parenthood. “Of course, the idea that I would have a child and raise it by myself at that age, when I couldn’t even find my way home at night, was ridiculous.” she wrote. “And when it was over, I was relieved in every possible way.”
Handler wrote that when she became pregnant a second time that same year, she had to find the money herself to get an abortion:
I didn’t have just one abortion; I had two in the same year, impregnated by the same guy. I didn’t have the money the second time. I had to scrape together the $230 to pay Planned Parenthood, but it was a safe abortion. Getting unintentionally pregnant more than once is irresponsible, but it’s still necessary to make a thoughtful decision. We all make mistakes all the time. I happened to fuck up twice at the age of 16. I’m grateful that I came to my senses and was able to get an abortion legally without risking my health or bankrupting myself or my family. I’m 41 now. I don’t ever look back and think, God, I wish I’d had that baby.
The comedian and actress wrote that she is so grateful that she had access to safe and legal abortion. “Like millions of women, I can live my life without an unplanned child born out of an unhealthy relationship because of Roe v. Wade,” she wrote. “It’s infuriating to hear politicians make bogus promises about overturning this ruling that has protected us for more than 40 years.”
Handler likened women’s rights to LGBT and Black rights, writing that once we move forward in history, we can’t go back. “It’s a wrap on men deciding what women can do with their bodies,” she added.
“We have 7.3 billion people on this planet,” Handler wrote in summation. “Anybody who carefully decides not to become a parent — let alone a bad parent, which is what I would have become — should be applauded for making a smart and sustainable decision.”
While Handler’s brave and powerful essay should be applauded, some Twitter users accused the comedian of bragging about her abortions. (Pause for eye roll.)
Handler responded to critics in a tweet, writing: “When I agreed to write an article on a woman’s right to choose, I certainly wasn’t bragging. I chose to tell the truth.”
When I agreed to write an article on a woman's right to choose, I certainly wasn't bragging. I chose to tell the truth. #shouldbemoreofit
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) June 28, 2016
We need more women choosing to tell the truth. Thanks, Chelsea.
Head over to Playboy to read the rest of Handler’s essay.