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Celebrities Speak Out on a Woman's Right to Choose

From interviews conducted by Marianne Schnall at the March for Women's Lives in Washington, D.C. in 1992. Excerpts from these interviews originally appeared in Us: The Entertainment Magazine.

"A lot of us remember the days when abortion wasn't legal. It didn't mean there weren't abortions. It meant that women who were wealthy could go to the various places in the world where you could get safe, legal abortions, and the rest of the women risked their lives for the right to decide whether to have children or not. The people who are saying we don't have the right to choose, the government should interfere with our womb, are not people who believe in helping mothers who are poor or psychologically or emotionally unfit or unable to have children - to take care of those children, to raise them healthily and safely. It's as though all they care about is unborn babies, and they don't care anything about mothers or the babies once they are born into a world that can't receive them properly."
—Jane Fonda

"Try to force your politicians, your local elected leaders, your Congressional and Senate leaders, force them on the issue of Choice from where they stand. It's important to be an active participant in the process. It's a responsibility and it's a gift that Americans have, whether they are right or wrong, good or bad, black or white, gender —it doesn't matter. I have faith in people and numbers. And I think, most importantly, people have to vote to pressure their elected officials and ask them where they stand on issues that matter to them. Take control of your life and your destiny because to leave it up to the highest court of the land will take it away."
—Sarah Jessica Parker

"I feel it's very serious and we should all step up and defend our rights. This is basically unconstitutional. This is an attack on our freedoms. We lose this, then we start losing other things. I wish that people really understood the issue. It is sort of a scary thing. It's an attack on our fundamental rights. Freedom of religion is guaranteed to us and basically that is what this attack is against. And we also have a right to privacy."
—Deborah Harry

"Well, I think that our adversaries, the anti-equality folks, have two tactics. One is to get their people to vote and the other is to make our people feel they can't make a difference. And that was a conscious tactic during the Nixon era, during the Reagan era, and during the Bush era .. . Though change doesn't start an electoral system, it's obviously like a house - you build a revolution from the bottom up. And that's exactly what's been happening. Because we have a huge majority of this country. In fact, if you ask the question the way it ought to be asked, which is who makes the decisions, the women in our position or the government, 90% of Americans say it should not be the government. So we are the overwhelming majority of the country. We ought to have a march or a demonstration at least once every couple of months just to keep our circulation going."
—Gloria Steinem

"I'd like to know that my daughters would have the freedom if they find themselves in situations. No government is going to jump in and make decisions for them. It's outrageous. They have no place in that position. There is no question, it should be a woman's choice. It is not a religious thing, it's not a political thing, it's very simple—it's just a right, so don't f--k with it. "
—Meredith Baxter

"I often feel myself that the government is this huge, untouchable thing, and it is. It's daunting. But they do things, because they are about to take away a woman's right to choose. I really believe they are. They have power and it's time to say something if you don't agree. It's time to act."
—Matthew Broderick

"I lost a friend in high school who died from a self-administered abortion attempt and I grew up in a day and age when abortion was illegal, and I just don't even know what to say to people who don't understand how important it is that abortion be available to women, that women do have that choice. . . Being a woman in that situation in a society that doesn't offer medical assistance—that's truly more terrifying than any movie Hollywood could make. And you've got to feel compassion for these millions of women, and you've got to come back here and demand, beg, whatever it takes to get the government to be sympathetic to that, to stop treating women like second class citizens.
—Jonathon Demme

"First of all, where would we be — not even born without women. They are the other best and wonderful half of our existence, forever and ever. I have a daughter. My daughter will have a daughter. And essentially it's less an abortion issue for me and more an equality issue. That's the large thing we are working at here. And this is a step towards full equality for women. And that's very important to every man in the world."
—Joel Grey

"I think that this issue is one that doesn't really belong in the hand of government. It belongs in the hands of women and their physicians...I mean, to me, Thelma and Louise was not just a movie about two women on a crime spree, and it wasn't just a movie about liberation, it was a movie about a very tenuous relationship we have with a normal life. And I think that we are experiencing that right now. And I wanted to write an outlaw movie because our government is about to turn a lot of women into outlaws. And they are going to turn a lot of doctors into outlaws. And so the analogy is not that far off, because you know, you narrow people's options, you force people who are otherwise God-fearing, law abiding people to do things that in normal circumstances they wouldn't do."
—Callie Khouri

(Oscar-winning screenwriter of Thelma and Louise)

"I think everyone who is of voting age should take seriously what is facing this nation. And I think it's ridiculous we even have to march, frankly. I mean, it's such a fundamental right. It's such a basic, simple, fundamental right that we're being threatened with, being denied that right. It's very simple."
Mary Stuart Masterson

"As Americans, our respect for people's private lives, where folks make their most profound and intimate decisions, must never be superceded by the moralists in government."
—Ron Silver

"Well, I'll tell you what—there are a lot of men here, but I will tell you the reason why a lot of us are here, because basically it boils down to the government or legislative body telling me what I can and cannot do in planning my own family. So, if you are going to tell a woman what to do, that woman may be my wife, that woman may be my girlfriend. That doesn't sit well with me to tell them and to tell me what I can't do with my family. So, in a nut shell, that's basically why I'm here, and that's why it's important for most of us men to be here. Because, you can't live in this world, obviously, without coming into contact with women. I mean, a woman is my mother, gave me life, gave me sisters. I have a girlfriend I love dearly. All of that comes into play. It's not about abortion being right or wrong. It's about having that choice to decide what a person should do with their own body."
—Blair Underwood

©Marianne Schnall. No portion of these quotes may be reprinted without permission of Marianne Schnall .

Marianne Schnall is a widely published writer and interviewer. whose writings and interviews have appeared in a variety of media outlets including O, The Oprah Magazine, CNN.com, EW.com, the Women's Media Center and many others. Marianne is a featured blogger at The Huffington Post and a contributor to the nationally syndicated NPR radio show, 51 percent The Women's Perspective. She is also the co-founder and executive director of the women's website and non-profit organization Feminist.com and What Will It Take Movements. She is the author of Daring to Be Ourselves: Influential Women Share Insights on Courage, Happiness and Finding Your Own Voice based on her interviews with a variety of well-known women. Marianne's new book is What Will it Take to Make a Woman President? Conversations About Women, Leadership, and Power. You can visit her website at www.marianneschnall.com.

Follow Marianne on Twitter @marianneschnall

More interviews by Marianne Schnall

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