On June 4, Busy Philipps actress, author and host of the talk show Busy Tonight testified in Congress about her experience having an abortion at the age of 15 , as part of her condemnation of the new extreme abortion restrictions in states like Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Missouri.
“We cannot truly be equal if we do not have bodily autonomy. That’s just a fact. I had an abortion when I was 15 years old and I think that because of the extreme noise of the anti-choice side, especially over the last 20 years many women, feel a great deal of shaming about having the procedure,” says Philipps.
By publicly coming forward Philipps hopes to raise awareness of how this new legislation impacts women’s right to choose and what people can do to take action. “Many people may or may not know this but none of the bans have gone into effect yet. They all are supposed to go into effect in 2020. When the Senate passed the Georgia ban, I really felt compelled to say something,” she says.
During her testimony Philipps also detailed the widespread nature of abortions and the impact these bans would have on women’s health. “I am 39 years old and obviously do not remember a time before Roe versus Wade. I think we’ve gotten further away from what it was like and what that truly meant for women. Hopefully people, can speak out about the kinds of very dangerous situations that women are forced to put themselves in. Some women got lucky and some women really did not.”
In this interview Philipps shares three ways men and women can advocate for women’s right to choose.
Get to know someone
Given that at least one in four women have had an abortion, Philipps wants to raise awareness of the widespread impact these bans will have. To achieve this she is encouraging women to share their stories using the #YouKnowMe hashtag on social media. “Every single person in this country knows someone and loves someone who has had an abortion. You may think that you’re sitting at home and don’t know anyone who would have an abortion, well you know me, I had one,” she says.
By using the hashtag and sharing stories Philipps hopes that women will realize they are not alone. This idea was inspired by the #MeToo movement. “I feel like we really all saw the positive impact of women sharing their stories of surviving sexual assault on moving conversation forward and involving men in that conversation,” says Philipps.
Get to know the facts
Over the last twenty years, Philipps says the spread of misinformation has become a major issue. “The anti-abortion, anti-choice side has been so loud and vocal, which can be upsetting. A lot of women don’t feel great about it, but it was a necessary thing that they went through. It was a choice that they made. It was something that they don’t regret,” she says.
One example of misinformation that Philipps cites is the title of the abortion ban known as the “heartbeat bill”, which she says is misleading. “This is not factually and scientifically correct a six-week-old embryo fetus does not have a heartbeat. It has a collection of cells that are pulsing, it does not have a heart. It is sending the same message that they’re trying to send over and over, and demonize women, healthcare providers and their doctors for making choices that A, are well within their right to make, and B, sometimes are a case of life or death for women,” she says.
Philipps says misleading facts shame women and make them feel as though they can’t share their experiences. “This will not stop women from getting abortions, but women will be hurt. They will probably die and go to great lengths to being able to access it,” she says.
Support organisations and leaders fighting the fight
To take action, Philipps suggests men and women start by supporting organisations that advocate for women’s rights and health. “There are many organizations that can use the money. I think that supporting Planned Parenthood, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) or donating to a yellow fund abortion fund, will help women in these states,” she says.
Another way people can take action Philipps says, is to use their vote. “You have the election coming up, so you have to research the candidate that you’re voting for. You have to make sure that women’s reproductive rights and the right to safe and legal abortion is something that your candidate not only stands for, but will also make a priority.” Regardless of what opinions people hold on the issue Philipps says the bottom line is, religious ideology or personal beliefs should not be able to govern an individual’s body. This freedom she says is worth fighting for.