Elizabeth Banks, Scandal’s Bellamy Young, and Orange is the New Black’s Dascha Polanco are telling real-life stories of abortion to raise awareness for a new pro-choice campaign.
The three actresses — who are also joined by comedian Retta, and fellow screen stars Amy Brenneman, Mercedes Mason, and Mary McCormack — have joined the Center for Reproductive Rights’ Draw the Line initiative, which is standing up against political attacks on reproductive healthcare.
In a new series of videos, each of the women tell a story from the point of a view of a real American woman who has had an abortion, each for a different reason.
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Taking a stand: Elizabeth Banks has joined a new campaign by the Center of Reproductive Rights
Speaking out: The 41-year-old star is helping the organization combat attacks on reproductive rights
In one clip, mother-of-two Elizabeth, 41, tells the story of Rebecca, a woman who was beaten by her boyfriend. Rebecca’s best friend, who’d been there for her through thick and thin, helped her move out of their shared apartment.
But when Rebecca thought she was finally free, she found out her birth control had failed and she was pregnant.
‘One of the worst things about getting an abortion was actually having to say the word “abortion”,’ Elizabeth says in the video, speaking from Rebecca’s point of view.
Reasons: She tells the story of a real woman named Rebecca, who aborted the baby of a man who abused her; Rebecca was glad the people who loved her stepped up to support her
Mom: Elizabeth, who appeared in the film What to Expect When You’re Expecting, has two kids of her own
‘With my best friend, no topic had ever been off-limits, which is why I already knew she was against abortion. I couldn’t imagine losing her over this. I told her that I could not have my abuser’s baby. I did not want to create a life with such a hateful man. And then I waited for her judgement.
‘But it never came. She even drove me to the clinic, made me call my mom as I took the pills in my dorm.
‘What I remember most about my experience is that the women I love stepped up to support the decision I was choosing to make. Because the life they were most concerned about was mine.’
She concludes: ‘When you love someone, you want the best for them. And that means you would do anything to protect them from being forced to do something against their will. I think most women feel that way, but when it comes to abortion, it can be hard to say the words.’
Elizabeth then demonstrates that she ‘draws the line’ for Rebecca, painting a streak across the bottom of the screen.
Tougher laws: The campaign supports women’s reproductive rights, which have been facing more and more restrictions in the past few years
The seven videos were all released just ahead of Friday’s forty-third anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protected a woman’s right to privacy in getting an abortion and bans states from placing an undue burden on women seeking one.
However, since then reproductive rights have become more limited, with more and more restrictions being proposed in states across the Southern and Midwestern US.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, between January and April of 2015 alone, lawmakers had proposed 332 new provisions reducing abortions.
And on March 2, another major case spotlighting reproductive rights will reach the Supreme Court. In Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole, the lawfulness of some of Texas’ abortion restrictions are being challenged.
Touching tale: Bellamy Young, 45, told the story of Faith, who knew her unborn baby’s health was at risk because she was epileptic
Advocate: Bellamy plays Senator Mellie Grant on the popular ABC show Scandal; this season, her character defended Planned Parenthood
Girl power: She is also a defender of the organization in real life and has tweeted her support
Bellamy Young, 45, also recorded a video for the campaign. The Scandal actress has spoken out about abortion before — in fact, her character, Senator Mellie Grant, recently filibustered to prevent the Senate from voting to defund Planned Parenthood on the show.
‘So proud to speak on ur behalf [tonight],’ she tweeted the night the episode aired. [And] for all women who deserve access to basic health care. [Thank you] for all you do.’
During the same season, Olivia Pope, played by Kerry Washington, gets an abortion, a shocking twist that made real-life headlines.
For the campaign, Bellamy tells the story of Faith, a mother and nurse suffering from epilepsy. She says that that being pregnant put her job and health at risk, since there was a 40 per cent chance that she would have a seizure during pregnancy.
In need of healthcare: Faith, whom Bellamy speaks for, said she was made to feel like a criminal instead of a patient
Putting it in the spotlight: Also on this season of Scandal, Kerry Washington’s character Olivia gets an abortion
When her birth control failed, she knew she needed to have an abortion. Because the pregnancy had been unplanned, she hadn’t taken necessary measures to ensure it would be safe. But external pressure made the decision difficult.
‘I felt the shame and stigma attached to having an abortion, because those who disagree with your choice will want to make you feel guilty,’ Bellamy, as Faith, says sadly. ‘When people hear “abortion” they think “mistake”. They think “irresponsible”. They think everything except, “I hope she’s gonna be OK.”‘
She had to wait until she was 17 weeks along, when she could finally get time off from work, and she kept the procedure a secret from others.
‘I was made to feel like a criminal, instead of a patient in need of care,’ she says. ‘I hope my girls grow up in a world that protects the healthcare they need, regardless of how another might feel about why they need it.’
Owning her body: Dascha Polanco tells the story of Kayleigh, who said abortion was the best choice for her
True story: The 33-year-old voiced Kayleigh’s concerns about the obstacles put in the way of women in Texas seeking abortions
Dascha Polanco, 33, filmed a third clip. Her character on the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, Daya, got pregnant while in prison and decided to keep it — unlike Kayleigh, the woman whose story she gives a voice in the new video.
Many women are made to feel shame… I’m proud. I had the guts to make the right choice for myself
When Kayleigh found out she was pregnant, she made a pro-con list. But thinking about the fact that she was a full time student with full time job made her decision simple.
‘I barely had time to juggle my current responsibilities,’ Dascha says, as Kayleigh. ‘I was not ready to raise a child with the care and attention they deserved. So I made the best decision possible for me. I scheduled an abortion.
‘But in Texas, once I’d made my decision, there were a whole bunch of obstacles that others put in my way,’ she says, likely referring to 2013’s HB2 measure in the state, which mandates that doctors who provide abortions have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of their clinic.
The law also requires all clinics that offer abortions to become ambulatory surgical centers — which has limited the number of abortion-providing clinics in the state.
On TV: Dascha’s character on Orange is the New Black got pregnant but decided to keep her baby
Scary stuff: Parks and Recreation actress Retta told the story of a woman with a dangerous ectopic pregnancy, in which the baby was unlikely to survive
‘I was not about to let anyone bully me,’ she says. ‘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.’
In yet another clip, Parks and Recreation actress Retta, 45, tells story of Rosario, a woman who had an ectopic pregnancy — a dangerous condition in which the egg implants outside the uterus — after years of trying to conceive.
Most babies of ectopic pregnancies don’t survive, and Rosario made the painful decision to terminate, even though she desperately wanted a child.
‘I had a doctor that was protecting my body and my rights,’ she says. ‘It hurts when I think of the women out there who are fighting to get treatment because there home doesn’t come with the health care services that I had.’
Too sad: Private Practice star Amy Brenneman’s story is about a woman who found out she would likely miscarry but have to deliver the dead baby
Star-studded campaign: Fear the Walking Dead’s Mercedes Mason (left) and In Plain Sight’s Mary McCormack (right) also appear
Private Practice star Amy Brenneman, 51, tells Whitney’s story. Whitney’s unborn baby had chromosomal abnormalities that were ‘not compatible with life’ — which meant Whitney would likely have a miscarriage, and be force to deliver her dead baby in a hospital.
Instead, she got an abortion.
Fear the Walking Dead’s Mercedes Mason, 33, and In Plain Sight’s Mary McCormack, 46, also speak out in videos of their own, telling more real stories of women who chose to terminate their pregnancies.
The Draw the Line campaign also invites other women to share their stories on its website and voice where they ‘draw the line’ on social media with the hashtag #DrawTheLine.