Jameela Jamil has long been an outspoken proponent of body positivity and mental health, but in response to the recent announcement that Georgia passed a "heartbeat bill"—which bans abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and would punish women who seek one with up to a lifetime in prison—she took to Twitter to share that she had an abortion when she was young.
"It was the best decision I ever made," she said of her choice to terminate her pregnancy. "Both for me, and for the baby I didn't want, and wasn't ready for, emotionally, psychologically, and financially."
The actress, who stars on NBC's The Good Place, spoke out not only about her own experiences but also for those who will be most severely affected by the ban. "This anti-abortion law in Georgia is so upsetting, inhumane, and blatantly demonstrative of a hatred of women, a disregard for our rights, bodies, mental health," she tweeted, describing the bill as "essentially a punishment for rape victims," who are forced "to carry the baby of their rapist."
Jamil also referenced the fact that "the anti-abortion law is also especially targeted at those without the means/ability to move state. Women who are marginalized, poor or disabled will, as ever, be the ones to suffer the most. The wealthy will have so much more freedom."
This statement has deep roots in real history and research: in pre-Roe v. Wade days, wealthy women were able to pay doctors for under-the-table care, whereas poor women who were unable to do so often wound up dying from complications or winding up with more children than they could support, perpetuating a suffocating cycle of poverty and despair.
Following the aforementioned tweet, Jamil wrote, "*So* many of the same people saying that a 6-week old fetus is a life to be protected, only think that as long as the baby won't be gay/trans…" Following backlash, she later clarified that she was not implying that all pro-life people were anti-queer or anti-trans.
Her comments have become even more relevant since news broke on Tuesday that the Alabama Senate voted in favor of a bill that would effectively ban all abortions, even in the case of rape and incest. In response to that, Jamil wrote simply, "Truly disgusting."
Jamil's revelation comes on the heels of Busy Philipps' defiant protest of the Georgia bill. On her talk show Busy Tonight, the Cougartown actress cited the statistic that 1 in 4 women will have an abortion before the age of 45—a figure that often surprises people. "Maybe you're sitting there thinking, 'I don't know a woman who would have an abortion,'" she said. "Well, you know me." She later took to Twitter, asking women to share their stories.
The hashtag #YouKnowMe is currently trending on Twitter, drawing instant parallels to #MeToo. Jamil herself retweeted the phrase, and many others are sharing their stories in real time, as the Georgia and Alabama bills threaten to make their ways to the Supreme Court.
Both the Georgia and Alabama bills have garnered nationwide attention from some of the most prominent figures in politics, and have sparked a contentious debate across party lines. They come in the wake of similar 6-week bans from Mississippi and Ohio. Each of these bans is likely to be overturned in lower courts, which means that the issue could make it to the Supreme Court. Before Donald Trump was elected, overturning Roe v. Wade seemed infeasible, but this is no longer the case due to the appointments of Neil Gorsuch and another figure who has shown notorious disregard for women's rights to their own bodies: Brett Kavanaugh.
Jamil and Philipps are far from alone in their outrage at this sequence of events. Another actress, Alyssa Milano, has also taken significant steps to protest the bills. On Twitter, Milano called for a "sex strike," at least "until we get our body autonomy back"—an act that received instant criticism for a myriad of reasons. However, Milano later stated that the proposed strike was merely intended to garner attention and generate conversation about the issue. "My purpose for sending out that tweet was simply, I felt like these bills were being ignored and sending out that tweet, look at me now, I'm on your show and we're talking about women's rights and how they're being rolled back," she told CNN's, Chris Cuomo.
"Nobody wants to get an abortion," she said. "But there are circumstances that we cannot avoid. There's the mother's health, there's just not being ready ... And what that means financially. Just because there are women that don't believe in abortion doesn't take away someone else's right."
She concluded with a call to action. "There are many people on the ground, these grassroots organizations like Sister Song that are fighting these bills in the South. We have to come together as a collective voice. We have to turn this fear that we're feeling right now into power and into votes in 2020," she said.
The Georgia bill, should it go into effect, is slated to become law in 2020. The fate of the Alabama bill currently rests in the hands of Governor Kay Ivey.
Eden Arielle Gordon is a writer and musician from New York City. Follow her on Twitter @edenarielmusic.
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