CityKat Talks about Abortion and Gives Leslie a Nod

Sigh. Somebody give me a martini and a room full of drunken celebrities and then we’ll see whose ‘private’ lifestyle choices are actually worth reporting.

Such as: Which A-List Hollywood superstars have had an abortion?

Now that would be a story that counted for something. Right?

Latest figures that show one in about 50 American women of childbearing age have ended a pregnancy. The same study found the west and northeast of the country topped the rate scale.

So you’d think that over in Hollywood, on the west coast, there’d be more than a few stars with a personal story to tell.

And you’d think, given that nearly every other aspect of said personal lives are routinely revealed in tell-all glory, that a celebrity encounter with an abortion clinic would actually be a story of public interest.

Yet I couldn’t think of a famous face who hasn’t kept mum on the issue yet talk freely about everything else. Like their weird diet secrets or sex habits.


In the early days of Hollywood, when celebrity journals fawned over stars, film historian Anthony Slide told Slate starlets ending pregnancies were reported to be “having their appendix removed”.

In 1991, Whoopi Goldberg spoke of going to a park with a coathanger as a 14-year-old girl in a book called The Choices We Made.

The author writes her book was published “on the heels of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions restricting a woman’s access to abortion”.

In 2006, feminist publication Ms. Magazine featured Judging Amy actress Amy Brenneman, among others, in a story called We Had Abortions.

It came during a watershed moment for the abortion-rights cause, fuelled by fears South Dakotans would vote to ban virtually all abortions in their state, even in cases of rape and incest.

Recently, abortion in the US has managed to creep into the national conversation though proposed budget funding cuts to the Planned Parenthood birth control program didn’t include abortion.

Still, Gwyneth Paltrow and Scarlett Johannsen said something about the issue, sort of.

Looking closer to home, life in a time when abortion was an illegal taboo is back in the consciousness, thanks to a TV show about sexual revolution in magazines. Indeed, the sexual and social rights of women are again in the spotlight thanks to a few notable ‘scandals’ bred of subcultures that promote that same kind of patriarchy that shushed talk about ‘women’s business’ and women in general.

Last week, Kerry Petersen, associate professor at La Trobe University’s School of Law, said Australia risked returning to the “backyard abortion of yesteryear” unless changes to the law were made. Dr Petersen called for reform with reference to last year’s high-profile Cairns abortion couple case. Women’s rights activist Leslie Cannold pitched a similar argument at the same time.

So now is as good a time as any to start looking at why there isn’t more openness about an issue that, at most recent, sketchy estimate, affects about the same number of women here as in America.

And why not start with this blog?

I have not had an abortion. I’ve had a few sleepless nights punctuated with panicked Google searches and visions of clandestine trips to Canberra under the cover of darkness. I’m not sure what upset me most: the fact of the matter; that I was so panicked; that I was considering making a decision that could land me in jail; or that I couldn’t think of the last time I had an open, honest, reasonable conversation about abortion.

What about you?

Is abortion a subject you feel you can talk about? Do you feel you should talk about it? Who should you discuss it with? And do you feel that there’s a problem with an entertainment industry that will sell sex, but won’t deal with the consequences?

And please. Be respectful.

Publication history

Abortion: The conversation we need to have by Katherine Feeney   Age Life & Style Blog