Lena Dunham has always been outspoken in her support for a woman’s right to choose.
From appearing in ads for Planned Parenthood and campaigning against recently proposed anti-abortion legislation, to casually incorporating it into a storyline in her TV show Girls, the actress works hard to fight the stigma still surrounding ‘controversial’ topics.
But despite her best intentions, Dunham has also unknowingly contributed to the stigma she has fought so hard against.
In Choice, the latest episode of her podcast Women of The Hour, the 30-year-old recalled the moment she made this realisation.
“I always thought that I myself didn’t stigmatise abortion,” she said.
“I’m an abortion rights activist, it’s a huge part of who I am, but one day when I was visiting a Planned Parenthood in Texas a few years ago, a young woman walked up to me and asked me if I’d like to be a part of her project in which women share their stories of abortions.
“I sort of jumped. ‘I haven’t had an abortion,’ I told her. I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women’s options, I myself had never had an abortion.
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“And 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.”
While there remains a taboo around the topic, abortion is far more common than you might expect.
In Australia, it’s estimated that about one in three women will experience an abortion in their lifetime.
Listen to the Mamamia Outloud team explain why this isn’t the first time Lena Dunham has had to clarify her comments. (Post continues after audio).
After that moment, Dunham pledged to stop.
“So many people I love – my mother, my best friends – have had to have abortions for all kinds of reasons,” she said
“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.
“Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.”