In her essay in Playboy’s “Freedom Issue,” Chelsea Handler uses her personal example to highlight how America’s reproductive laws helped her correct an “irresponsible” decision with a “thoughtful” one.
Chelsea Handler revealed she had two abortions through Planned Parenthood when she was 16. The comedian opened up about her experience in an essay forPlayboy magazine’s “Freedom” issue, saying she wouldn’t be where she is today if she hadn’t had the right to choose.
The Chelsea host said when she got pregnant as a teen, “getting an abortion wasn’t the first idea that popped into my unripened brain. I was going through a very bad stage in my life,” she wrote on Friday, June 24. “I hated my parents and I was having unprotected sex with my boyfriend, who was not someone I should’ve been having sex with in the first place, never mind unprotected sex. I wasn’t really playing with a full deck of cards, and when I got pregnant I just thought, ‘Why not? I can have a baby. Maybe I’ll have twins and give them rhyming names!’”
While she may have thought she was capable of raising a child, her parents showed her that she had other options. “Of course, the idea that I would have a child and raise it by myself at that age, when I couldn’t even find my way home at night, was ridiculous,” she penned. “My parents recognized that, so they acted like parents for one of the very first times in my life and took me to Planned Parenthood. I felt parented, ironically, while I was getting an abortion. And when it was over, I was relieved in every possible way.”
She had not only one abortion that year, but a second one that she struggled to pay for. “I had to scrape together the $230 to pay Planned Parenthood, but it was a safe abortion,” she continued. “Getting unintentionally pregnant more than once is irresponsible, but it’s still necessary to make a thoughtful decision. We all make mistakes all the time. I happened to f–k up twice at the age of 16. I’m grateful that I came to my senses and was able to get an abortion legally without risking my health or bankrupting myself or my family.”
The former Chelsea Lately host explained that she has no regrets about her decisions to end both pregnancies. “I’m 41 now,” she said. “I don’t ever look back and think, ‘God, I wish I’d had that baby.’”
Handler cites the 1973 Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade for allowing her to “live [her] life without an unplanned child born out of an unhealthy relationship.” The Netflix star lamented that lower courts keep passing laws to restrict women’s access to abortion clinics, but she doesn’t believe that the right to choose is in danger. (The Supreme Court struck down part of an anti-abortion law in Texas in a landmark ruling on Monday, June 27.)
“We’re too far ahead of the game. Once you go forward in history, you don’t go backward,” she wrote. “We’ve already made the decision, and now we’re moving on to transgender rights. And it’s a wrap on men deciding what women can do with their bodies.”
Handler recognizes that not everyone in America will agree on the controversial issue. “It’s okay if you think it’s not right for women to have abortions — but it’s not your problem, because we decide,” she wrote. “We have 7.3 billion people on this planet. Anybody who carefully decides not to become a parent — let alone a bad parent, which is what I would have become — should be applauded for making a smart and sustainable decision. I’d love for somebody to try to tell me what to do with my body. I dare them.”
This isn’t the first time that Handler has opened up about getting an abortion in her teenage years. “I had an abortion when I was 16,” she told The New York Times in 2011. “Because that’s what I should have done. Otherwise I would now have a 20-year-old kid.”