Actress Lena Dunham is under fire for saying in a recent episode of her podcast that she still hasn’t had an abortion, but wishes she had — a flippant comment she has since framed as “a distasteful joke.”
It was a shocking statement that came as Dunham was discussing abortion and women’s health on a Dec. 14 episode of her “Women of the Hour” podcast. During the show, the actress reportedly recalled how she visited a Planned Parenthood a few years ago and was asked to join a project featuring women who had abortions.
Dunham said she found herself telling the young woman who asked her to take part that she, herself, had never had an abortion — something that apparently led her to a realization.
“Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman’s right to choose, felt it was important that people know I was unblemished in this department,” Dunham said. “Now I can say that I still haven’t had an abortion, but I wish I had.”
It was that comment that sparked angry reaction from across social media, as people hit back at her curious “wish.” The furor went so far and wide that Dunham took to her Instagram account on Tuesday night to offer a statement on the matter.
My latest podcast episode was meant to tell a multifaceted story about reproductive choice in America, to explain the many reasons women do or don't choose to have children and what bodily autonomy really means. I'm so proud of the medley of voices in the episode. I truly hope a distasteful joke on my part won't diminish the amazing work of all the women who participated. My words were spoken from a sort of "delusional girl" persona I often inhabit, a girl who careens between wisdom and ignorance (that's what my TV show is too) and it didn't translate. That's my fault. I would never, ever intentionally trivialize the emotional and physical challenges of terminating a pregnancy. My only goal is to increase awareness and decrease stigma. I take reproductive choice in America more seriously than I take literally anything else, and therefore own full responsibility for any words I speak that don't convey this truth clearly. I know plenty of people will never like a thing that leaves my lips, mea culpas or no, but this apology is for the women who have placed their trust in me. You mean everything to me. My life is and always will be devoted to reproductive justice and freedom. You know how in some households you curse and have to put money in a jar? Well in mine, if you mess up your pro-choice messaging you have to give a sizable donation to abortion funds (https://abortionfunds.org/need-abortion) in New York, Texas and Ohio 💰I look forward to fighting with you all for the next four years and beyond.
“My latest podcast episode was meant to tell a multifaceted story about reproductive choice in America, to explain the many reasons women do or don’t choose to have children and what bodily autonomy really means,” she wrote. “I’m so proud of the medley of voices in the episode.”
She continued, “I truly hope a distasteful joke on my part won’t diminish the amazing work of all the women who participated. My words were spoken from a sort of ‘delusional girl’ persona I often inhabit, a girl who careens between wisdom and ignorance (that’s what my TV show is too) and it didn’t translate. That’s my fault.”
Dunham said she would never trivialize the physical and emotional struggles associated with having an abortion, but that she wanted to instead increase awareness of the issue and “decrease stigma,” offering to take full responsibility for any words that didn’t convey the seriousness with which she takes “reproductive choice.”
“My life is and always will be devoted to reproductive justice and freedom,” she said. “You know how in some households you curse and have to put money in a jar? Well in mine, if you mess up your pro-choice messaging you have to give a sizable donation to abortion funds … in New York, Texas and Ohio.”
Her apology came amid a flurry of critique over her remarks. Here’s just a sampling of the furor:
Does Lena Dunham also wish her mother had had an abortion? What an incredibly sad thing for her to have said. We should pray for her.
— Eric Metaxas (@ericmetaxas) December 21, 2016
stop 👏🏽giving 👏🏽 Lena 👏🏽 Dunham 👏🏽platforms 👏🏽
— Sophia Benoit (@1followernodad) December 20, 2016
Finally something both liberals and conservatives can agree on.
We're all sick of Lena Dunham.
— Nick Jack Pappas (@Pappiness) December 20, 2016
So @lenadunham blocked me in a fit of rage, noting I am a 'sociopath'. Wishing you had an abortion is sociopathic. Capitalism is logical.
— Martin Shkreli (@MartinShkreli) December 21, 2016
Who's going to write the 10,000 word article about why Hillary Clinton thought it was a good idea to befriend Lena Dunham
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) December 21, 2016
I try not to poke this particular bees nest too often but..
Lena Dunham continues to undo everything my generation fought to provide women.
— Boogie2988 (@Boogie2988) December 21, 2016
Again, that’s just a sampling of the reaction. As for Dunham’s apology, not everyone was buying into that, either, as the comments section was filled with frustration over the entire ordeal.
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