Chelsea Handler is highlighting how America’s reproductive laws helped her rectify “irresponsible” teenage decisions with a “thoughtful” one.
As a teen, Handler says she got pregnant after having unprotected sex with her boyfriend. “I just thought, ‘Why not?’ I can have a baby. Maybe I’ll have twins and give them rhyming names,” she details. “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. 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.”
In a new revelation, she explains that she got pregnant once again later that year and was barely able to afford another $230 (Planned Parenthood’s fee for a “safe abortion”).
“Getting unintentionally pregnant more than once is irresponsible, but it’s still necessary to make a thoughtful decision,” writes Handler, 41. “We all make mistakes all the time. I happened to f— 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.”
Handler’s ability to make a decision about welcoming a child into her life, she writes, is thanks to Roe v. Wade, the monumental 1973 Supreme Court decision on a woman’s legal right to an abortion. She calls constant efforts to overturn or subvert the law “infuriating,” but asserts, “I don’t buy that Roe v. Wade is in danger.”
“Once you go forward in history, you don’t go backward. That would be like the government saying, ‘Okay, we’re taking away your right to vote too,’ ” Handler says. “You can’t introduce a black person and be like, ‘Oh, I just got a slave!’ That era is over.”
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The comedian acquiesces that America will never agree on the topic – but says that’s okay.
“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,” Handler writes. “I’d love for somebody to try to tell me what to do with my body. I dare them.”
The essay comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s Monday decision to strike down a controversial Texas law that it said created an “undue burden” on women’s right to an abortion.