Kerry Washington reveals she had a secret abortion and opened up on why she's telling people now
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Kerry Washington has revealed how she used a fake name to have an abortion earlier in her career, explaining why she’s now chosen to speak up about her decision.
The 46-year-old star of the hit TV show Scandal has recently released a memoir, detailing her career in showbusiness and beyond, but she admits that she agonised over whether to include the story about her abortion in the book.
However, in the end she decided it was ‘really important’ to include the story, wanting to share her feelings on what she went through at a time when reproductive rights are a serious topic of debate in the US.
Speaking about that memoir – entitled Thicker Than Water – in an interview with PEOPLE magazine, Washington said: "I struggled a lot in the beginning with whether or not to include my abortion story.
"At first I wasn't really sure how it fit into this story of my life.
“But I started to feel like it was really important for me to share this."
In the book, Washington explains how the unexpected pregnancy happened earlier on in her career, just after she had been successful with films such as Save the Last Dance and Spike Lee’s She Hate Me, in which she was the lead character.
It was a lot for her to deal with, particularly as a young woman in her 20s.
She had to make the seriously tough and complicated decision to end the pregnancy.
That meant getting an appointment at a clinic under a false name, and it also meant that she had to deal with some real feelings of shame and hypocrisy for her decision, which came after she had been an advocate for sexual health education during her teenage years.
She hopes that her story will help to remove some of the stigma surrounding abortion.
"This story had so much to do with my understanding of myself and the world as my career unfolded,” Washington said.
She continued: "It's just so important to me that abortion is not a bad word, and that my abortion is not another thing on the list of things that I'm ashamed of.”
This is doubly important now, as the debate continues to rage in the United States, with Texas and Alabama among the states which are implementing an almost total ban on legal access to abortion.
Washington explained: "We're at a moment where it's really important to be telling the truth about our reproductive choices because some of those choices are being stripped away from us.
"I'm telling my truth about my life, excavating some of my secrets,
"I don't want my not telling it to make anybody think there is shame to be had about this choice."
Washington is now mother to two children, nine-year-old Isabelle and six-year-old Caleb, as well as a teenager stepdaughter with her husband Nnamdi Asomugha.
Her memoir Thicker Than Water is available to buy from September 26.
For help, support and advice about abortion, contact the National Abortion Federation on 1-800-772-9100, EST 8am-7pm EST Monday to Friday or EST 8am-4pm EST Saturday to Sunday