“Girls” Star Jemima Kirke Opens Up About Her Abortion

Jemima Kirke. Getty Images

Jemima Kirke is a star of the hit HBO series Girls. Most recently, she’s making headlines because of her candor about a subject that is far too often taboo: abortion.

Kirke is perhaps best known for her role as the character Jessa Johansson, the bohemian globetrotter, on Girls. However, she recently opened up and shared her decision to terminate a pregnancy when she was in college in 2007 in a PSA for the Center for Reproductive Rights: “Because I couldn’t tell my mother that I was pregnant, I had to pay for it out of pocket.

I had to empty my checking account and get some from my boyfriend…I realized that if I didn’t take the anesthesia, I would be able to afford to do this. The anesthesia wasn’t that much more, but when you’re scrounging for however many hundreds of dollars, it’s a lot.’”

Unfortunately, Kirke’s experience is far from extraordinary, especially as abortion restrictions have been ratcheting up over in the past five years, as the Center for Reproductive Rights notes: “For over 40 years, women in the United States have had the right to access safe, legal abortion. Women, in consultation with their families and their doctors, make decisions about the course of their reproductive lives every day—whether to use contraception, to try to start a family, or, when faced with an unintended pregnancy, to choose adoption, end the pregnancy, or raise a child. These decisions are among the most personal and private any person can make—and they are not decisions that should be dictated by politicians.

Nonetheless, every year, those who oppose abortion and contraception propose hundreds of laws in state legislatures across the country that are intended to make it harder for women to access reproductive health care, to protect their health and lives, and to plan their childbearing.”

In fact, while about a third of American women will have an abortion in her lifetime, a procedure that is in fact legal in the United States, heavy restrictions mean that women are often scrambling financially to afford their procedures.

As the Guttmacher Institute notes, “Although 66% of women having abortions had some type of health insurance, 57% paid for their abortion out of pocket. Among women with private health insurance, 63% paid out of pocket.” This means that if a woman cannot afford an abortion she may not be able to terminate a pregnancy, even if she has health insurance. While there are vitally important abortion fund networks, such as the National Network of Abortion Funds, these organizations exist as stop-gap help and cannot help everyone, everywhere.

Luckily for Jemima Kirke she was able to pull together the funds to receive her abortion. The 29-year-old actress is now a married mother of two and does not regret her decision to have an abortion years ago, noting: “My life was just not conducive to raising a happy, healthy child.”

Kirke is speaking out to help create a better future for her children. Kirke is hoping they will not have to "fight for their rights over their bodies" but is “already anticipating their issues with self-esteem, their body, the whole luggage that comes with being a woman.” She is speaking out in this PSA in hopes of changing the narrative around abortion and access to a full range of reproductive health services, saying, “I would love if when they're older, the political issues surrounding their bodies were not there anymore.”

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Morris, Susana. "“Girls” Star Jemima Kirke Opens Up About Her Abortion." ThoughtCo, Apr. 27, 2015, thoughtco.com/girls-star-jemima-kirke-abortion-3533722. Morris, Susana. (2015, April 27). “Girls” Star Jemima Kirke Opens Up About Her Abortion. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/girls-star-jemima-kirke-abortion-3533722 Morris, Susana. "“Girls” Star Jemima Kirke Opens Up About Her Abortion." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/girls-star-jemima-kirke-abortion-3533722 (accessed November 21, 2017).