There is no shortage of candid opinions on British actress Jameela Jamil’s Twitter feed. Aside from starring on NBC’s “The Good Place,” the 33-year-old is best known for being an outspoken activist, often weighing in on issues from body positivity to sex and consent.
This week, Jamil joined the chorus speaking out against highly restrictive abortion legislation being passed or considered by a number of states nationwide. In a series of impassioned tweets on Monday criticizing Georgia’s “heartbeat bill,” Jamil revealed she had an abortion — a choice, she said, she does not regret.
“I had an abortion when I was young, and it was the best decision I have ever made,” she tweeted. “Both for me, and for the baby I didn’t want, and wasn’t ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially.”
The actress rebuked the bill that Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) signed into law last week, banning abortions after doctors are able to detect a “fetal heartbeat in the womb,” which usually occurs about six weeks into pregnancy. At that time, most women don’t even know if they are pregnant.
“This anti-abortion law in Georgia is so upsetting, inhumane, and blatantly demonstrative of a hatred of women, a disregard for our rights, bodies, mental health,” Jamil tweeted, describing the bill as “essentially a punishment for rape victims,” who are forced “to carry the baby of their rapist.”
She added that the law disproportionately affects women “without the means/ability to move state.”
“Women who are marginalized, poor or disabled will, as ever, be the ones to suffer the most,” she wrote in another tweet. “The wealthy will have so much more freedom.”
With her tweets this week, Jamil inserted herself into a national debate that is only becoming more intense as state legislatures rush to challenge Roe v. Wade under a newly reconstituted Supreme Court by passing increasingly strict bans on abortion. Late Tuesday, the Alabama Senate passed what has been described as “the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban,” which doesn’t make exceptions for victims of rape or incest, The Washington Post reported. States including Mississippi, Kentucky and Ohio have also passed “heartbeat” laws.
Jamil was praised by activists who thanked her for using her platform to “destigmatize conversations around abortion.”
“Each person who speaks openly about their abortion is helping to destroy the expectation of silence and increase collective compassion!” one person tweeted.
In the aftermath of Kemp signing the “heartbeat bill,” Jamil wasn’t the only celebrity to come forward about having an abortion. Last week, actress Busy Philipps tearfully spoke about how she got an abortion when she was 15 years old on her late-night show, “Busy Tonight.”
“I know that people feel very strongly about abortion, but let me just say this: Women and their doctors are in the best position to make informed decisions about what is best for them,” Philipps said. “Nobody else. Nobody.”
She went on to say that laws criminalizing abortion wouldn’t stop anyone from making “this incredibly personal choice,” adding that the legislation would more likely put women at risk.
“I’m genuinely scared for women and girls all over this country,” Philipps said.
But while Jamil and Philipps both publicly addressed having abortions, “The Good Place” star faced intense outcry from critics who were irked by her suggestions that an abortion was the “best decision” for the unborn fetus and that banning the procedure could result in “so many children” ending up in foster homes.
“So many lives ruined,” Jamil wrote on Monday. "So very cruel.”
Many argued that the fetus was not given a choice.
Others shared personal stories defending the foster care system and adoption.
One person identifying themselves as a “kid in foster care,” tweeted, “[I] would rather be where [I] am right here with my foster family rather than being aborted and not being able to love. to live. to meet new people and to grow.”
“So glad my birth mother wasn’t you,” another person tweeted, adding the hashtag “#adopted.”
About 20 minutes after sharing her abortion story, Jamil posted another tweet clarifying her comment about foster homes.
“[T]his isn’t any diss at ALL to foster homes,” she wrote. “I’m in awe of people who take in children in need of a family and a home: but if Georgia becomes inundated with children who are unwanted or unable to be cared for, it will be hard to find great fostering for them all.”
The tweet did little to quell the outrage, and Jamil continued to respond to her detractors on Tuesday.
“This is me watching people who don’t know me... especially men (who have no idea what motherhood or pregnancy is like...) tell me that I should have had the baby I didn’t want and wasn’t ready for...” she tweeted, including a GIF of actor Steve Carell laughing.
When the news broke late Tuesday night that the Alabama bill would not have an exception for victims of rape and incest, Jamil’s reaction was blunt.
“Truly disgusting,” she tweeted.
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