Rita Moreno reflects on her own life-threatening illegal abortion in light of Roe v. Wade overturn

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·2 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Rita Moreno
Rita Moreno

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a 6-3 decision today, ending decades of federal protections for reproductive rights and tossing them into the grubby paws of state legislators who care far more about their ability to control the rights of citizens than their actual lives—and provoking a nationwide wave of responses in the process. Hollywood, for instance, has had a wide outpouring of voices decrying the decision, protesting its widespread, dangerous abrogation of people’s rights to control their own bodies and medical decisions.

That includes, among many others, EGOT performer Rita Moreno, who spoke today with Variety about her very vivid memories of what life before Roe was like—and specifically, when she was forced to acquire an illegal abortion herself. Moreno originally revealed the details of her abortion in a 2011 book, noting that Marlon Brando, who she’d been dating at the time, arranged it. In the interview with Variety today, she said, “Marlon found a doctor through some friends. He was a real doctor—Marlon paid him $500—as opposed to something in a back alley.” Nevertheless, the procedure went wrong, leading Moreno to start bleeding dangerously and be forced to go to a regular hospital for her “disturbed pregnancy.”

Read more

Marlon took me to the hospital. I had what they told me was a “disturbed pregnancy.” The doctor didn’t do anything really, except make me bleed. In other words, he didn’t do it right. I didn’t know it then, but I could have died. What a mess. What a dreadful mess.

Moreno’s is just one of a huge number of voices today expressing their sorrow at the Supreme Court decision—albeit one who actually had to live through the consequences of a world where abortion was illegal. (As abortion advocates often point out, bans are unlikely to reduce the number of abortions; just the number of safe abortions.)

Moreno also recalled her jubilation when Roe first passed, and the depression she feels today. Nevertheless: “We loud mouths are going to have to get busy,” Moreno said. “There are many of us. I’m thinking what are we going to do about this? If anything, this has reactivated us.”