In her sketch ‘SNL’, Cecily Strong opened a dialogue about abortion. Here’s what experts say:

On the Weekend Update segment of the show, the actress explained that the clown costume was to make the subject a little more palatable to the audience. She was introduced in light of a controversial Texas law currently being challenged in the US Supreme Court.

Speaking as her character Goober the Clown, Strong shared the story of a woman seeking an abortion on the eve of her 23rd birthday.

“I wish I didn’t have to do this because the abortion I had at 23 is my personal clown business,” Strong said during her part of the segment.

CNN contacted NBC to confirm whether the performance was a personal experience of Strong and has not heard back.

Abortion has been a fraught topic for decades. The controversy has recently become a bigger topic of conversation in the wake of Texas’s “heartbeat law,” signed on May 19, essentially banning abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks into a pregnancy.

Many media commentators praised Strong’s discussion, but those opposed to abortion rights also spoke out online calling it a light-hearted take on a serious problem.

Strong’s performance on Saturday came during a particularly pertinent time, as Friday and Saturday are busy times for abortion clinics, said Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of the abortion storytelling organization, We Testify.

There may have been a patient, lying in bed at home recovering from their procedure after a long day of being yelled at by protesters and waiting in a clinic, which turned the show on to relax, she said.

Strong’s appearance may have drawn a curtain to show that the experience they’ve been through is shared by many, despite the secrecy and silence surrounding it, Bracey Sherman said — and it was just the start of the conversation.

(From left) Cecily Strong as Goober The Clown and anchor Colin Jost at 'SNL''s Weekend Update on Saturday.

The facts

When it comes to abortion, many people “don’t even know how to talk to other clowns about it,” and a lot of information isn’t passed on, Strong said Saturday.

She cited a statistic that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Current data shows that in fact it affects an estimated 1 in 4 women of childbearing age in the United States, but she was right in her message, said Lauren Cross, a spokesperson for the Guttmacher Institute, a research organization at the United States. area of ​​reproductive health that supports abortion rights.

“The main point Cecily Strong made is perfect: abortion has been a widespread and common experience, especially since[theUSSupremeCourtrulingRoevWadein1973madeabortionlegalinall50states)andbeforethatPeopleofallagesracesandreligionsarehavingabortions”Crosssaidviaemail

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In fact, the Guttmacher Institute has consistently found that the majority of people who have an abortion have religious beliefs. The most recent data from 2014 shows that only 38% of people who had an abortion indicated no religious affiliation.

When Strong said she wouldn’t be the “clown” she is today were it not for access to abortion, Cross said the “SNL” star was an example of a situation many patients find themselves in.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, about 75% of abortion patients in 2014, the most recent available data, were below the federal poverty line or low-income.
Not having access to abortion care makes a patient more likely to experience persistent poverty, according to the American Psychological Association. Because abortion was denied, patients were more likely to stay in contact with an abusive partner, according to the APA.

The right to access abortion may be legally protected by Roe v. Wade, but states have since enacted more than 1,300 abortion restrictions, Cross said.

Those restrictions have placed practical barriers on women who seek them out, she added. Some states don’t allow abortion care to be covered by insurance, others require patients to travel long distances to get to a clinic, and some impose restrictions on timing, forcing patients to navigate missing work to get multiple appointments. to attend.
A 33-year-old mother of three from central Texas awaits medical clearance to leave after an October abortion at Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Louisiana.

the experiences

In her appearance, Strong referenced a guestbook in the waiting room of an abortion clinic, where patients could leave their stories to help future patients feel less alone.

She also described a comment in the health care provider’s office that reassured her, “You’re not a terrible person and your life isn’t over yet.”

“I think the way the anti-abortion movement is winning makes us think we’re alone and nobody cares about people having abortions that we’re these random abstract ideas rather than people,” Bracey Sherman said. “Everyone loves someone who has had an abortion.”

What Strong described — the experience of hearing different stories and feeling supported — is one that not every patient gets, said Dr. Meera Shah, medical director of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic.

Shah works mainly in New York, but once a month she travels to Indiana to provide abortions to communities with less access. In New York, she says her patients can get an abortion the same day they seek one.

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The story is different in Indiana, where Shah said she had to administer an ultrasound, give a copy of the photo to the patient, read a script that says life begins at conception, and leave her patients 18 hours later. come back for the procedure.

If the abortion wasn’t a response to something traumatic, Strong said, many will label it as not “just.” Many proponents emphasized that the stigma surrounding it can be embarrassing and harmful to women.

“The vast majority of patients expressed relief,” Shah said. “Some people never want to be parents and it’s not part of their life plan, some people already have the kids they want and for some people it’s just not the right time.

“Not all abortions are the result of incest, rape and trauma,” she said.

In the case Strong described, a health care provider joke was needed during an abortion appointment to communicate “you’re not a terrible person and your life isn’t over now.”

A 33-year-old mother of three from central Texas is escorted down the hallway by the clinic's administrator before having an abortion in Shreveport, Louisiana.

The sources

While many politicians debate abortion, many people still seek them out — and resources are available to help them take care of themselves the way they do, lawyers say.

“It’s going to happen, so it has to be safe, legal and accessible,” Strong said.

Abortion rights advocates refer many people who believe they need an abortion but face financial or logistical barriers to the National Network of Abortion Funds, which provides assistance and information across the US.
There can be a wide range of emotions after a patient has had an abortion, from relief to embarrassment at the stigma many people feel. Shah said she refers her patients to organizations like Exhale and Options.

“Those are resources people can turn to if they feel like they need to share their story or talk to someone about their experience and if they feel like they’re a little bit alone in that experience,” she said.

“No abortion experience is the same,” says Bracey Sherman. “Everyone deserves to share their abortion story in whatever medium feels best to them.”


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