“Scandal” star Kerry Washington reveals in her new memoir that early in her career she underwent an abortion, doing so under an assumed name for fear of professional repercussions.
"I struggled a lot in the beginning with whether or not to include my abortion story," the Bronx-born actor, 46, says in the new issue of People magazine being published Friday. "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 her memoir, “Thicker Than Water,” which comes out Tuesday, Washington explains that in her 20s, after having had success in films including “Save the Last Dance” (2001) and Spike Lee’s “She Hate Me” (2003), she found herself with an unwanted pregnancy. Choosing to have an abortion, she gave the medical professionals a pseudonym, stating now that she felt shame at her situation after having been a sexual-health educator during her teen years.
Presently the mother of daughter Isabelle, 9, and son Caleb, 6, with her husband of 10 years, Nnamdi Asomugha, 42, as well as a teenage stepdaughter, Washington says she is revealing her abortion experience now because "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."
The Emmy Award winner fears, she says, a return to a time when women died or suffered serious medical complications due to illegal “back alley” abortions. “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,” Washington says, adding that, “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.”
And ultimately, “This story had so much to do with my understanding of myself and the world as my career unfolded.”