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Lena Dunham apologises for saying she 'wishes she'd had an abortion.'

Lena Dunham has apologised for saying she “hadn’t had an abortion, but wished she had,” following major backlash.

The actress made the comments in the latest episode of her podcast Women Of The Hour and took to Instagram to clear things up.

“I truly hope a distasteful joke on my part won’t diminish the amazing work of all the women who participated [in the podcast],” she wrote.

“My words were spoken from a sort of “delusional girl” persona I often inhabit, a girl who careens between wisdom and ignorance (that’s what my TV show is too) and it didn’t translate. That’s my fault. I would never, ever intentionally trivialize the emotional and physical challenges of terminating a pregnancy.”

My latest podcast episode was meant to tell a multifaceted story about reproductive choice in America, to explain the many reasons women do or don’t choose to have children and what bodily autonomy really means. I’m so proud of the medley of voices in the episode. I truly hope a distasteful joke on my part won’t diminish the amazing work of all the women who participated. My words were spoken from a sort of “delusional girl” persona I often inhabit, a girl who careens between wisdom and ignorance (that’s what my TV show is too) and it didn’t translate. That’s my fault. I would never, ever intentionally trivialize the emotional and physical challenges of terminating a pregnancy. My only goal is to increase awareness and decrease stigma. I take reproductive choice in America more seriously than I take literally anything else, and therefore own full responsibility for any words I speak that don’t convey this truth clearly. I know plenty of people will never like a thing that leaves my lips, mea culpas or no, but this apology is for the women who have placed their trust in me. You mean everything to me. My life is and always will be devoted to reproductive justice and freedom. You know how in some households you curse and have to put money in a jar? Well in mine, if you mess up your pro-choice messaging you have to give a sizable donation to abortion funds (https://abortionfunds.org/need-abortion) in New York, Texas and Ohio ????I look forward to fighting with you all for the next four years and beyond.

A photo posted by Lena Dunham (@lenadunham) on

She continued on to say her only goal remains to increase awareness and decrease stigma.

“I take reproductive choice in America more seriously than I take literally anything else, and therefore own full responsibility for any words I speak that don’t convey this truth clearly. I know plenty of people will never like a thing that leaves my lips, mea culpas or no, but this apology is for the women who have placed their trust in me,” she says.

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“You mean everything to me. My life is and always will be devoted to reproductive justice and freedom. You know how in some households you curse and have to put money in a jar? Well in mine, if you mess up your pro-choice messaging you have to give a sizable donation to abortion funds (https://abortionfunds.org/need-abortion) in New York, Texas and Ohio ????I look forward to fighting with you all for the next four years and beyond.”

Previously we wrote…

Whether you love her, loathe her or feel a static indifference towards her, Lena Dunham inarguably has a knack for saying the wrong thing.

In the latest episode of her podcast The Women of the Hour, which focused on reproductive rights, the unequivocally pro-choice actress discussed the stigma of abortion, and managed to infuriate many by saying she wished she’d had one.

Dunham is a vocal supporter of Planned Parenthood in the US, yet during a visit to a clinic in Texas when asked if she herself had had abortion she responded with an emphatic ‘no’.

But the question — along with her response to it — clearly played on the 30-year-old’s mind, so much so she felt the need to address it in her podcast.

Lena Dunham 2015 getty
Lena Dunham has upset many with her latest gaffe. Image via Getty

"I realised then that even I was carrying within myself stigma around this issue. Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman’s right to choose, felt it was important that people knew I was unblemished in this department."

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She then went on to state her admiration for women who have had abortions, including her mother and best friends, and the significance of realising her own internalised prejudices.

You can hear her comments in full here (post continues after audio):

“I feel so proud of them for their bravery, for their self-knowledge and it was a really important moment for me then to realise I had internalised some of what society was throwing at us and I had to put it in the garbage,” she said.

Then she said this:

“Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.”

The backlash against Dunham has been swift and brutal.

Many of the comments on Twitter are so vitriolic and highly personal they don't bear repeating, but suffice to say, she has hit a nerve.

By wishing for an abortion, seemingly flippantly, Dunham has effectively diminished the experiences of the many women — around one in three in Australia — who have them.

While some of those women may well possess the 'bravery and self-knowledge' she praises, for many an abortion is not some defining act of personhood, but a confusing, often traumatising procedure that can causes deep emotional and physical suffering.

Being pro-choice, does not mean you are pro-abortion — it means you believe in a woman’s right to control her own body and if/when she uses it to have children.

You also don’t need to have had an abortion to empathise with someone who has.

Much like you don't need to be a woman to understand how fundamental their reproductive rights are and then do everything in your power to support them.

Being a good activist does not require claiming someone else's hurt as your own; it requires an understanding of the privileges you hold, listening carefully to others and using whatever power you have to fight for positive change.

Dunham has got it wrong, and not for the first time.

Understanding why will help us better understand the debate on reproductive rights — but crucifying her probably won't help anybody.

Listen to the Mamamia Outloud team explain why this isn't the first time Lena Dunham has had to clarify her comments.

Feature image via Facebook/Lena Dunham