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Phoebe Bridgers just shared her own abortion story as Supreme Court moves to overturn Roe v Wade


By Sarah Finnan
05th May 2022
Phoebe Bridgers just shared her own abortion story as Supreme Court moves to overturn Roe v Wade

Phoebe Bridgers is amongst those to have shared her own personal abortion story following the US Supreme Court's moves to overturn Roe v Wade.

A US Supreme Court draft decision – endorsed by Justice Samuel Alito –leaked to the press earlier this week, alerting the public that a majority of justices would like to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade ruling that guarantees federal constitutional protections of abortion rights. 

The Supreme Court subsequently confirmed that the draft ruling was authentic, and US President Joe Biden condemned the efforts of the extremist “Maga crowd, vowing to fight the court’s imminent decision. 

“If this decision holds, it is really quite a radical decision,” he told reporters before departing  on Air Force One for a planned trip to Alabama. “It goes far beyond the concern of a right to choose. It goes to other basic rights, the right to marriage, the right to determine a whole range of things.” 

“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost 50 years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” he continued, before adding, “we will be ready when any ruling is issued.”

Several high-profile celebrities, including singer Phoebe Bridgers, have spoken out in light of the recent Supreme Court leak, but first, some context. 

What is Roe v Wade? 

Roe v Wade refers to a lawsuit that led the landmark 1973 US Supreme Court decision establishing a constitutional right to abortion in the United States. The majority opinion found an absolute right to abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy, up to 24 weeks gestation.

Roe was a pseudonym used for Norma McCorvey, a 22-year-old, unmarried, unemployed, woman who found herself pregnant for the third time in 1969 when she sought to have an abortion in Texas. However, by the time the US Supreme Court ruled in her favour, McCorvey had already given birth to a baby girl – who she then put up for adoption. 

Henry Wade was the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas. A PBS article explaining the background of Roe v Wade, notes that it was his job to enforce a state law prohibiting abortion except in the case where it would be necessary to save a woman’s life. McCorvey alleged that Texas law was unconstitutionally vague and violated her constitutionally protected right to personal privacy. Wade was the person McCorvey sued when she sought the abortion.

The court delivered a majority opinion that the Constitution recognises a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy by abortion. Amongst one of the most controversial rulings in American history, Roe v Wade has been challenged several times over the years but has remained in place until now. 

What’s happening now? 

Fast-forward to present day, and the Supreme Court is considering a case which challenges Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks. If the court rules in favour of Mississippi, it will effectively end the constitutional right to an abortion, and make abortion rights a decision for individual states once again. 

There are nine judges on the Supreme Court – six of whom were appointed by Republican presidents. The draft opinion leaked this week by Judge Samuel Alito, claims that the Roe v Wade judgement is “egregiously wrong”, however, it does not represent an official decision on the matter and there is still the possibility that votes could change as deliberations continue.

If the Supreme Court does strike down the original 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, then abortion could be banned in almost half of all US states.

According to The New York Times, polls have shown that most Americans support at least some form of abortion rights, even if they support selected limits. A survey by CNN in January found that just 30% of Americans wanted the court to completely overturn Roe, while 69% were opposed. 

Celebrity say 

People all across the globe have been reacting to the leaked draft since it was first published in Politico on Tuesday – many famous faces included, who have been using their platforms to speak out against the decision. Taking to social media to detail her own personal experience, singer Phoebe Bridgers was amongst those to denounce the news, joining a growing list of other celebrities in sharing her own abortion story. 

“I had an abortion in October of last year while I was on tour. I went to planned parenthood where they gave me the abortion pill. It was easy. Everyone deserves that kind of access,” the Grammy-nominated musician tweeted during the week, also posting a big list of places people can donate to to show their support. 

Last September, Uma Thurman penned a searingly honest letter in response to the new Texan abortion laws, also admitting to having previously had an abortion. A major blow to women’s rights over in the US, it’s one of the strictest-introduced laws to date and bans abortion from as early as six weeks with no exceptions for cases involving rape or incest. 

Allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone else who helps a woman obtain an abortion, the legislation was met with widespread fury from people all around the world. Writing a heartbreaking op-ed for The Washington Post, Thurman said that she felt compelled to speak out to “take the heat with our daughters and sisters”. 

“I have followed the course of Texas’s radical antiabortion law with great sadness, and something akin to horror,” she wrote at the time. “Now, in the hope of drawing the flames of controversy away from the vulnerable women on whom this law will have an immediate effect, I am sharing my own experience. You might not be interested in the opinions of an actress, but given this new outrage, I feel it is my responsibility to stand up in their shoes.” 

Revealing that she was “accidentally impregnated by a much older man” in her late teens, Thurman admitted that she is still haunted by the pain of her story all these years later. “The abortion I had as a teenager was the hardest decision of my life, one that caused me anguish then and that saddens me even now, but it was the path to the life full of joy and love that I have experienced. 

“Choosing not to keep that early pregnancy allowed me to grow up and become the mother I wanted and needed to be,” she noted.

What prompted her to share her story, you might ask? She had nothing to gain from this disclosure, and perhaps much to lose. But there are women out there who need to know they’re not alone, and Thurman wanted to reassure them of that. “In revealing the hole that this decision carved in me, I hope that some light will shine through, reaching women and girls who might feel a shame that they can’t protect themselves from and have no agency over. I can assure you that no one finds herself on that table on purpose.”

 

Echoing what many others have already said, Thurman noted that the legislation was essentially “a staging ground for a human rights crisis for American women”. “This law is yet another discriminatory tool against those who are economically disadvantaged, and often, indeed, against their partners. Women and children of wealthy families retain all the choices in the world, and face little risk.”