Kerry Washington is currently promoting her memoir, Thicker Than Water, which came out today. Excerpts and other details have been making headlines over the last few days but I want to talk about her abortion story.
Of the decision to include this in the book, Kerry tells PEOPLE:
"I struggled a lot in the beginning with whether or not to include my abortion story. At first I wasn't really sure how it fit into this story of my life. But I started to feel like it was really important for me to share this."
Kerry’s abortion happened near the start of her career, after she’d had some early success. So she gave a fake name and “admits she felt shame as well as a degree of hypocrisy, having spent years as a sexual health educator in her teens”.
"This story had so much to do with my understanding of myself and the world as my career unfolded," she says.
Another reason she chose now to share her experience: "It's just so important to me that abortion is not a bad word, and that my abortion is not another thing on the list of things that I'm ashamed of."
Washington adds, "We're at a moment where it's really important to be telling the truth about our reproductive choices because some of those choices are being stripped away from us."
It is up to every individual and what they know is best for themselves whether or not to share their abortion story. That said, it’s amazing that Kerry, like other celebrities who’ve shared their abortion stories, because there is still so much shame and disinformation. If that wasn’t the case, there wouldn’t be such a terrifying push to limit access to reproductive health, a basic human right.
But her example also speaks to how insidious that false messaging is – because she herself was a sexual health educator, she’d spent time in a progressive environment that practised health care principles based on equality, and still that negative social conditioning, its hold is so strong. Because it’s been centuries of this bullsh-t, of telling women what we can and can’t and should and shouldn’t do with our bodies. And this is part of the reason why there have been setbacks, and why the reminders must be consistent, why they must continue. What we have to do is keep talking about it, like the way Kerry is talking about it, engaging with each other about it, normalising it.
So many of us have had abortions. We all had our reasons. My reason isn’t any more or less valid than yours. It doesn’t require rationalisation. It’s just what we did for ourselves, for our bodies, the end.