Retta, Elizabeth Banks And More Tell Abortion Stories For Roe V. Wade Anniversary

Words matter. Stories matter. People matter.

As the abortion storytelling movement continues to pick up momentum and people become bolder about a procedure one in three women will have in their lifetime, campaigns like Draw the Line from the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) have been popping up to be the caretakers of those stories and ask listeners to pledge their solidarity.

“I draw the line against attacks on safe and legal abortion.”

CRR is marking Friday’s 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade extending our right to privacy to our doctors’ offices with a new series of one to two minute videos that amplify the many reasons people choose to terminate a pregnancy. Seven actresses and activists — Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect), Amy Brenneman (The Leftovers), Mercedes Mason (Fear the Walking Dead), Mary McCormack (In Plain Sight), Dascha Polanco (Orange is the New Black), Retta (Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce) and Bellamy Young (Scandal) — tell stories submitted to the campaign by women across the country.

The stories cover a broad scope of real experiences that lead to a person’s need for an abortion — everything from simple bad timing, to a medical complication, to an abusive relationship.

Dascha Polanco tells Kayleigh’s story: I Wouldn’t Let Anyone Bully Me

“Once I made my decision, there were a whole bunch of obstacles that others put in my way. I am a woman who trusts her own opinions; I was not about to let anyone bully me. I was surprised to find that the process actually made me feel braver. It was an active choice — my choice, that I made. I knew I was strong, but many women are made to feel shame and spend much of their lives pretending it didn’t happen. I’m proud. I had the guts to make the right choice for myself.”

Mary McCormack Tells Susanne’s Story: I Had No Real Choice

“When my water broke at only 15 weeks into my pregnancy, I knew I was in pre-term labor and my son would not survive…When we arrived at the hospital, the doctor confirmed my fear: I would lose my baby and there was nothing we could do to prevent it. So, I asked for an abortion, but my request was denied. The doctor said ‘It’s the hospital’s policy not to perform abortions; we won’t risk our reputation.”

“The stories highlighted by these incredible actresses tell the important and moving story of women who face many obstacles to access their constitutionally-protected right to an abortion. We’re so grateful to Amy, Bellamy, Dascha, Elizabeth, Mary, Mercedes, and Retta for using their talent and voice to help amplify these incredible stories,” said CRR president and CEO Nancy Northup. “This is about real women’s lives, health, and families. It’s time to stand up and be heard. It’s time to say that enough is enough, and that we are drawing the line.”


Organizations and activists around the country are using the #ReclaimRoe hashtag to post about the reality of abortion as a right in-name-only for so many. As access to safe, legal abortion care erodes — with 75% of surgical abortion clinics closing since 1991, we are down to just over 700 total clinics in the country and are seriously facing a landscape that looks much like the era before Roe.

Last year Mark Ruffalo made waves when Draw the Line posted the video of him telling his mother’s pre-1973 abortion story, when people had to sneak around at night and risk everything so they didn’t have to carry a pregnancy to term against their will.

We’re about to find out whether Ruffalo’s story will become common again.

“As we prepare to argue for women’s access to safe, legal abortion services before the U.S. Supreme Court, we need to make it clear to politicians exactly what’s at stake when they attack our reproductive freedom and fundamental rights,” said Northup.

On March 2, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole to decide the fate of HB2, the Texas omnibus anti-abortion law made famous by the filibuster at the capitol in the summer of 2013. Forty-five amicus briefs were filed by groups representing physicians, legislators, public health officials, social science researchers, and reproductive justice organizations. The briefs are filled with stories from people who have exercised their constitutional right to abortion — including more than 100 lawyers and other legal professionals.

We’ll find out in June, during the Supreme Court’s decision season, what will happen to the fate of our constitutional right to bodily autonomy. In the meantime, activists will continue to tell their stories until we #ReclaimRoe and no longer have to worry whether or not we will be denied a life saving abortion or face bullying and unnecessary obstacles in an attempt to access basic medical care.

Katie Klabusich is a contributing writer for The Establishment and host of The Katie Speak Show on Netroots Radio. Her work can also be found at Rolling Stone, Truthout, RH Reality Check, and Bitch Magazine. Follow her on Twitter: @Katie_Speak.