Lena Dunham Apologizes for Controversial Abortion Comments

After her pro-choice joke goes viral, the Girls star makes donations to funds across the U.S.

By Zach Johnson Dec 21, 2016 11:30 AMTags
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Actress and activist Lena Dunham apologized Tuesday for comments she made during the Dec. 14 episode of her Women of the Hour podcast. Last week, the 30-year-old creator, producer and star of HBO's Girls debated reproductive choice, including the stigma surrounding abortion.

At one point, Dunham recalled visiting a Planned Parenthood in Texas and being asked to share her abortion story. It wasn't until that moment that it dawned on Dunham that not only had she had never had an abortion, but she had internalized the stigma against the practice herself.

While speaking to one of the women at the clinic, the actress said, "I wanted to make it really clear to her that as much as I was going out and fighting for other women's options, I myself had never had an abortion. And I realized then that even I was carrying within myself stigma around this issue. Even I, the woman who cares as much as anybody about a woman's right to choose, felt it was important that people know that I was unblemished in this department."

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Dunham also remembered that many people in her life, including her mother and some of her best friends, have had abortions at some point in their lives. According to the actress, that realization prompted her to take her internalized stigma and "put it in the garbage." In closing, the native New Yorker said, "Now I can say that I still haven't had an abortion, but I wish I had."

It was that last comment that got Dunham into trouble.

After her quotes were picked up by Fox News and other news outlets, Dunham—a longtime lightning rod in conservative media circles—shared her side of the story on Instagram Tuesday.

"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," Dunham wrote. "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."

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"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," Dunham continued. "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," the actress promised. "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 in New York, Texas and Ohio," the actress wrote, including a link for others who wished to donate. Dunham concluded, "I look forward to fighting with you all for the next four years and beyond."