Ashley Judd Honors Late Mom Naomi in Mother's Day Essay: 'It Wasn't Supposed to Be This Way'

"This Sunday is abruptly, shockingly, my first Mother's Day without my mama," Ashley Judd wrote in a personal essay published Friday

Naomi Judd; Ashley Judd
Naomi and Ashley Judd. Photo: Beth Gwinn/Getty Images

Ashley Judd is speaking up about an important topic ahead of her first Mother's Day without late mom Naomi Judd.

The Golden Globe nominee, 54, paid tribute to the country icon — who died last weekend — in an essay for USA Today, which also questioned the value of mothers following the leaked draft opinion of the Supreme Court's intention to overturn Roe v. Wade.

"This Sunday is abruptly, shockingly, my first Mother's Day without my mama," she started. "She died just hours before her peers at the Country Music Hall of Fame could demonstrate to her how much they esteem her. She died just days before my sister and I could show her again how much we love and honor her.

"It wasn't supposed to be this way. I was supposed to visit her on Sunday, to give her a box of old-fashioned candy, our family tradition. We were supposed to have sweet delight in each others' easy presence. Instead, I am unmoored. But my heart is not empty. It is replete with gratitude for what she left behind. Her nurture and tenderness, her music and memory," Ashley added.

She went on to write that her heart is also filled with "incandescent rage" over the mental health issues Naomi faced and "the wounds she carried from a lifetime of injustices that started when she was a girl. Because she was a girl."

9/23/99 New York, Ny Naomi, Ashley, And Wynona Judd At The Premiere Of "Double Jeopardy." (Photo By Robin Platzer/Twin Images/Getty Images)
Naomi, Ashley and Wynonna Judd in 1999. Robin Platzer/Twin Images/Getty

"My mama was an extraordinary parent under duress: She showed my sister and me the power of having a voice and using it, and there has been no greater lesson," Ashley wrote. "But motherhood happened to her without her consent. She experienced an unintended pregnancy at age 17, and that led her down a road familiar to so many adolescent mothers, including poverty and gender-based violence.

"Forgive me if my grief isn't tidy. When I think about my mother, I am awash in the painful specifics. It's a little easier, this Mother's Day, to think about mothers in the collective, to wonder whether we value them," she continued.

Ashley cited statistics from the World Health Organization that approximately 800 women died each day in 2017 from complications with pregnancy and childbirth, noting her firsthand account of seeing women "whose bodies were mangled from childbirth" while she volunteered with the United Nations Population Fund in South Sudan.

The Divergent actress also pointed out that the United States has one of the highest maternal death rates in the developed world, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as a National Library of Medicine study that found some of the top causes of death among pregnant women in the U.S. were homicide, suicide and overdose.

roe v. wade
Amanda Andrade-Rhoades/For The Washington Post via Getty

Her essay comes after Politico released a leaked draft opinion of the Supreme Court's intention to overturn the historic Roe v. Wade case, which established the right to abortion. Amid nationwide protests, President Joe Biden has since called on Congress to codify the right to an abortion and "protect a women's right to choose."

"My mama was a legend. She was an artist and a storyteller, but she had to fight like hell to overcome the hand she was dealt, to earn her place in history," she wrote. "She shouldn't have had to fight that hard to share her gifts with the world.

RELATED VIDEO: Country Legend Naomi Judd Died by Suicide After Longtime Struggle with Mental Health: Sources

"This Mother's Day, I choose to honor my mama for the person she was, a mother and so much more. And I ask you to honor your own mother, if you are lucky enough to have her. Honor her for more than her labor and sacrifice. Honor her for her talents and dreams. Honor her by demanding a world where motherhood, everywhere, is safe, healthy – and chosen," Ashley concluded.

Ashley and sister Wynonna Judd announced the death of their mother Naomi last weekend in a joint statement. She died after a years-long battle with mental illness.

The sisters paid tribute to Wynonna the next day at The Judds' induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

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