Cynthia Nixon gave an impassioned speech at a pro-choice rally in Union Square on Tuesday, where she opened up about the illegal abortion her mother got in the 1960s, years before Roe v. Wade.
The Sex and the City actress, who is campaigning to be the governor of New York, took the podium a day after President Trump announced conservative judge Brett Kavanaugh as his nominee for the Supreme Court — a candidate with a history of voting against abortion rights who many fear, if put on the bench, could lead to abortion becoming illegal in various states again.
“Abortion rights and reproductive rights is a very personal issue for me,” Nixon, 52, told the crowd. “My mother had an abortion here in New York State before it was legal. And when I was old enough, she made sure to tell me about it.”
“It was very hard for her to speak about,” Nixon added. “She didn’t give a lot of details but it was very important for her to tell me that she had had an abortion, that it had been illegal, and that it had been a tremendously awful experience. She had wanted me to make sure that I knew her history so I can fully value how crucial reproductive freedom is.”
Nixon then removed a wire hanger from her black tote bag, explaining that she had seen the item in her closet earlier in the day and saw the household object in a new light.
“For those of you too young to remember, this is something that women in this state and this country were driven to use out of fear and desperation, performing abortions on themselves often with devastating effects to their health and sometimes their life,” Nixon said. “We must ever, ever, ever go back to a time where any woman feels she has to make this kind of a choice. … So that no woman will ever feel compelled to use something like this on her again.”
This isn’t the first time Nixon has opened up about her mother’s experience with abortion.
In a 2009 interview with CNN, she said, “My mother had an illegal abortion pre-1973, and it’s something that I would never want to face or want my daughter to be facing or any of her friends. Abortion is a right I feel must not go away, and I feel like people aren’t mobilizing so much because it’s so complicated and it’s difficult to understand.”
Nixon elaborated more about it in a 2016 first-person essay in Time, saying that her mother was working in New York City with game show producers Goodson and Todman (What’s my Line?, Family Feud, etc).
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Nixon announced her candidacy for governor on March 19. She is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the Democratic nomination. The state primary will take place on Sept. 13.
If she wins, Nixon will be the first openly gay woman to hold the position.
At Tuesday’s rally, she openly criticized Gov. Cuomo for giving “lip service” to the issue of abortion while not signing the Reproductive Health Act or the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act.
She’s since been endorsed by #VOTEPROCHOICE.
“Women have to lead and speak up,” Nixon, a mother of three, told PEOPLE exclusively in March. “I just think we need to have more people of color and women and LGBT people not just represented — but leading. If we want to fix our world, they know what’s wrong with it because they’ve been on the short end of the stick.”
During an appearance on The Wendy Williams Show in April, Nixon said that Trump’s election shook her and served as a “wake-up call” for getting into politics.
“I love New York,” she said. “I believe so much in New York and I believe that we’re a real progressive bastion. … If we don’t like the direction our government is going in, we have to step up and get involved like never before.That’s what I’m doing.”