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'I still see shame around terminating pregnancies'; Girls star Jemima Kirke shares her college abortion story


Girls actress Jemima Kirke has appeared in an online video talking about the abortion she had when she was a college student, as part of a campaign to empower women. 

The mum-of-two, 29, says she chose to end her pregnancy when she was studying at Rhode Island in 2007. 

She's now shared her story with Draw The Line, a US-based pro-choice organisation that aims to remove the stigma associated with pregnancy terminations by openly discussing them. 

In the video, Kirke explains that she fell pregnant with her boyfriend at the time. 

"I wasn't sure that I wanted to be attached to this person for the rest of my life," she says. "My life was just not conducive to raising a happy, healthy child. I just didn't feel it was fair. So I decided to get an abortion."

Highlighting the bleak reality that faces many women in the US, Jemima says she opted not to have anesthesia during the abortion procedure, in order to save money. This was partly because she kept her abortion a secret from her mum and the rest of her family. 

"I had to empty my checking account, whatever I had in there, and I had to get some from my boyfriend," she says. "I realised that if I didn't have the anesthesia, I could afford the abortion. It wasn't that much more, but when you're scrounging for however many hundreds of dollars, it is a lot. I just didn't have it." 

"I've always felt that reproductive issues should be something that women especially should be able to talk about freely, especially amongst each other," she says.

"I still see shame and embarrassment around terminating pregnancies, getting pregnant, so I have always been open about my stories, always shared them, especially with other women." 

Jemima with her Girls co-stars

Jemima (second from right) with her Girls co-stars

The actress says she was inspired to go public about her abortion because she wants to create a better world  for her eight-year-old stepdaughter and her four-year-old daughter, Rafaella. (She also has a son, Memphis, two).  

"I'm already anticipating their issues with self-esteem, their issues with their body, the whole luggage that comes with being a woman," she says. "I would love if when they're older and they're in their teens or in their 20s, that the political issues surrounding their body were not there anymore. That they have one less thing to battle around their bodies." 

Jemima's Girls co-star Lena Dunham is firmly pro-choice and a big advocate of Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion provider.

Last year, the writer and star of the hit TV series posted a topless photo of herself with the slogan "Lena loves Planned Parenthood". 

It followed a series of photos posted by some of Hollywood's leading talent - including Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, and Ellen Page - who wore T-shirts bearing the same message. 


Lena's pro-choice Instagram snap

Abortion is an issue that's openly discussed in Girls, including a recent episode where character Mimi-Rose (played by Gillian Jacobs) decides to undergo a termination in a very straight forward and non-sensationalised manner.  

Planned Parenthood was asked to consult on the episode to "ensure abortion was shown in a realistic and non-stigmatizing way", the organisation said. 

In the past four years, more than 200 laws curtailing abortion rights were put into practice in the US. As guest editor for Stylist last year, Lena drew attention to the issue

"Reproductive rights are such a big issue for women in the US and when I talk to my friends in the UK, I realise  they have different things on their mind because you have a more evolved system," Lena says. "I think it’s really important  for women to understand some of the threats to reproductive rights that exist in the US."

Words: Anna Brech, Photos: Rex Features


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