Women are sharing their stories of having an abortion on social media in response to the state of Alabama voting to enforce a near-total ban on the procedure.
Celebs are joining the online campaign #youknowme, which is a bid to protect women’s right to access abortions, inform about the dangers of backstreet abortions and to criticise the act of men legislating over women’s bodies.
Talk show host and actress Busy Philipps shared her own experience of having an abortion aged 15 and called for other women to voice their stories to “end the shame” which surrounds abortions. Her motivation behind the campaign is to show how common it is for women to end their pregnancies.
“One in 4 women have had an abortion. Many people think they don’t know someone who has, but #youknowme,” the 39-year-old wrote in a post on Twitter.
One day after its launch, nearly 50,000 people had liked or shared the post and almost 2,000 users had posted responses, including deeply personal accounts of their own abortions.
The law change in Alabama amounts to a near-total ban on abortion in the state. It will make it a crime to perform an abortion at any stage of pregnancy and punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison.
The only exception would be when the woman’s health is at serious risk.
The bill contains no exception for rape and incest.
In theory, the legislation means a doctor who performs an abortion could go to prison for longer than a rapist or sexual abuser of a family member.
Actor Milla Jovovich, who starred in Fifth Element and Resident Evil, said she had an emergency abortion after she went into pre-term labour.
“It was one of the most horrific experiences I have ever gone through,” she wrote in a post on Instagram.
“I was alone and helpless. When I think about the fact that women might have to face abortions in even worse conditions than I did because of new laws, my stomach turns.”
Actor and politician Cynthia Nixon said her mother underwent a “harrowing” backstreet abortion before the procedure was made legal and that her wife also had an abortion.
“In 2010, my wife had a legal abortion after we found out her pregnancy was not viable,” she said.
“We cannot and will not go back.”
Chewing Gum actress Susan Wokoma shared her experience and praised the NHS.
She said: “I had one. 2016. Found out at 3 weeks. It was super weird but I was incredibly loved and supported by friends, family and the unbelievable NHS.”
Wokoma, who is working on a film about women who have abortions with support from the NHS, added: “Keep your hands off our f***ing bodies”.
Fellow British actor Jameela Jamil said having an abortion in her youth was the “best decision I have ever made”.
She said: “Hope the people of Alabama who want the abortion ban are up for donating their money and space to the MEGA influx of kids in need of care, coming your way.”
Sixteen states have introduced legislation to restrict abortion rights this year as conservatives attempt to chip away at the progress made by Roe v Wade – a landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that established a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy.
Abortion is a divisive and emotional subject in America, and a topic that is set to be widely debated during the run-up to the 2020 US presidential elections.