As the “heartbeat” bill is enacted to law and other restrictions are placed on abortions by state government, many are speaking out about why terminating a pregnancy was necessary for them. One of those voices is Ashley Judd’s — and she had a compelling reason: Her rapist impregnated her.
The actress and advocate took part in Thursday’s Women in the World summit in NYC, where she spoke to moderator Katie Couric about joining the opposition against the heartbeat bill in Georgia last month. The measure, like the one signed in Ohio on Thursday, generally prohibits abortions after doctors can discern a fetal heartbeat, which occurs around six weeks of pregnancy.
“As everyone knows, and I’m very open about it, I’m a three-time rape survivor,” the Double Jeopardy star said candidly during the panel. “One of the times I was raped, there was conception. And I’m very thankful I was able to access safe and legal abortion.”
Judd went on to explain that her rapist, like her, was from Kentucky, and per state law, that would have meant he’d have paternity rights.
“I would’ve had to co-parent with my rapist,” Judd told the crowd.
Yes, states including Kentucky do have laws revoking parental rights for children conceived as a result of sexual assault. However, in that state, it’s only if the rapist is convicted — and, according to a startling statistic from RAINN, out of 1,000 rapes, only five cases will result in a felony conviction. Further, only three out of four rapes are even reported to authorities in the first place.
“So having safe access to abortion was personally important to me and, as I said earlier, democracy starts with our skin,” Judd continued. “We’re not supposed to regulate what we choose to do with our insides.”
Judd’s name on the letter opposing Georgia’s heartbeat law:
Thank you to @sethgreen, @DavidArquette @AshleyJudd @michaelaWat @kellyoxford @pamelarackguest and @jamesocromwell who have signed on to join us in opposing #HB841 in #GA. Our letter to @BrianKempGA and David Ralston with updated signers below. #HB481IsBadForBusiness pic.twitter.com/99ZpPMikbt— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) March 29, 2019
Judd went on to say that she’s “speechless” over the Texas bill calling for women who get abortions to face the death penalty.
Audience members, including former Glamour editor-in-chief Cindi Leive, applauded Judd’s candidness:
.@AshleyJudd brilliant on stage talking about how she chose abortion after being raped—and if she hadn’t, her rapist would have legally had paternal rights in her state. “I would have had to co-parent with a rapist.” #WITW— Cindi Leive (@cindi_leive) April 11, 2019
During the panel, Judd also spoke about Joe Biden and said the photo of Biden and activist Sofie Karasek made her “very uncomfortable.”
Judd, who’s been doing humanitarian work focusing on gender equality and the sexual and reproductive health and rights of females, has long been candid about her abortion. And in her 2011 memoir All That Is Bitter and Sweet, she talked about being sexually abused as a child.
“An old man everyone knew beckoned me into a dark, empty corner of the business and offered me a quarter for the pinball machine at the pizza place if I’d sit on his lap,” she wrote. “He opened his arms, I climbed up, and I was shocked when he suddenly cinched his arms around me, squeezing me and smothering my mouth with his, jabbing his tongue deep into my mouth.”
Judd met Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who is considering running for president in 2020, backstage at the summit:
Of course, Judd has also been candid about being sexually harassed. She was the first celebrity on record to accuse disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein of misconduct in 1997. She subsequently sued him for sexual harassment, but it was dismissed in January because an actress’s relationship with a film producer was not covered under the California statute she had sued under or under its 2019 amendment. The judge said she could proceed with a defamation claim against him and she is, but the lawsuit was paused earlier this month, at Weinstein’s request, until his criminal trial for rape in NYC is resolved.
Read more on Yahoo Entertainment:
Want daily pop culture news delivered to your inbox? Sign up here for Yahoo Entertainment & Lifestyle’s newsletter.