In The Know

Atlantic writer Jemele Hill shares personal experience of having an abortion 20 years ago

Jemele Hill is seen at the 2019 Essence Festival at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on Friday, July 5, 2019, in New Orleans. (Photo by Donald Traill/Invision/AP)

Sports journalist Jemele Hill shared her experience of having an abortion more than 20 years ago in an article in The Atlantic on Tuesday, responding to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

“I’ve never shared my abortion story publicly until now,” wrote Hill, a contributing writer for the magazine.

“I know that I’m likely to be attacked for being candid about my decision. But I’m choosing to share some of my experience now because, like so many women in this country, I am angry, appalled, and disgusted about the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that previously guaranteed federal constitutional protections for abortion rights.”

Hill said she was 26 years old when she received an abortion, not because she was a victim of rape or incest but because she “simply had no desire to give birth to a child.”

“More than ever before, women who want an abortion or have had an abortion need to know that they aren’t alone; a large number of women have been in the same position,” Hill wrote. 

She said she was working at the Detroit Free Press when she had the procedure. She wrote that she could have financially support the child, and would have been supported by her family and the man she was involved with, but she did not see a long-term future with him.

She said her priority at the time was seizing the opportunity to cover Michigan State University’s championship basketball team in 2000 and becoming a senior writer for Sports Illustrated.

Hill said she is aware that some may call her choice “selfish” and “irresponsible,” but added that mistakes can happen. She said women are judged harshly for pursuing their goals as ambitiously as men do. 

“Just because an unwanted pregnancy occurs—and it doesn’t matter if it’s within the context of a relationship, a one-night stand, or a ‘situationship’—that doesn’t mean a woman should be punished by being forced to have a child she doesn’t want to raise,” she said. 

Hill said she is grateful that abortion services were available to her in a suburb outside Detroit at the time, but that if the court had already issued its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe, she would have been “absolutely terrified.” 

A 1930s Michigan law banning the procedure, which has not been active while Roe v. Wade was in effect, has put the status of legal abortion in the state in jeopardy. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) filed a motion on Friday asking the state’s high court to take up her lawsuit to stop the ban from being enforced. 

Hill said she had a position of relative privilege when she received her abortion, but added that the loss of federal abortion protection will “devastate” other women and their families. She noted that abortion rates are higher for Black and Hispanic women, and most people seeking abortions go on to have other children. 

“The Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling was regressive and political, and those states that have trigger laws banning abortions should know that these laws will not stop abortions,” she said. “Women will always try to decide what is best for their bodies, whether it’s legal or not.”

Tags abortion Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization Jemele Hill Jemele Hill Michigan abortion ban Roe v. Wade

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