Meghan Markle Speaks With Gloria Steinem on Reproductive Rights Post-Roe v. Wade: “It’s About Having a Choice”

The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter

Meghan Markle is among the high-profile women speaking out about the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization , overturning Roe v. Wade and the constitutional right to abortion .

The Duchess of Sussex and Gloria Steinem, who Markle has worked with on political issues including now an effort to get the Equal Rights Amendment ratified, spoke to former CNN chief White House correspondent, and founder of News Not Noise, Jessica Yellin for Vogue about the Dobbs decision and what the future looks like in the United States post- Roe v. Wade .

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Markle, who has two children with Prince Harry and opened up in November 2020 about having a miscarriage, said she felt “fortunate” to have both of her children and elaborated on her perspective on the issue of reproductive rights as a mother.

“I know what it feels like to have a connection to what is growing inside of your body,” Markle said. “What happens with our bodies is so deeply personal, which can also lead to silence and stigma, even though so many of us deal with personal health crises. I know what miscarrying feels like, which I’ve talked about publicly. The more that we normalize conversation about the things that affect our lives and bodies, the more people are going to understand how necessary it is to have protections in place.”

She added that she feels the decision about whether or not to have a child is up to the people who could become parents.

“Nobody should be forced to make a decision they do not want to make, or is unsafe, or puts their own life in jeopardy,” Markle said, also highlighting the importance of “women’s physical safety.” “Frankly, whether it’s a woman being put in an unthinkable situation, a woman not ready to start a family, or even a couple who deserve to plan their family in a way that makes the most sense for them, it’s about having a choice.”

Of her and Steinem, she said, “It’s interesting that here you’re talking to two women: one who chose to give birth happily, and one who chose not to give birth happily. And we’re both prospering because we were able to make our own choices.”

Looking at what the Dobbs decision means for women in the U.S. going forward, Markle talked about the risks faced by women in states where abortion is illegal.

“This is having a very real impact on women’s bodies and lives starting now,” she said. “Women are already sharing stories of how their physical safety is being put in danger. Women with resources will travel to get an abortion, those without might attempt to give themselves one at tremendous risk. Some will have to source abortion pills from unregulated pharmacies. Others who are pregnant and find themselves in a medical emergency will be at the mercy of doctors and lawyers to determine if a procedure that is needed to save her life can even be done at all. What does this tell women? It tells us that our physical safety doesn’t matter, and as a result that we don’t matter. But we do. Women matter.”

Beyond that, she spoke about what state abortion regulations mean for Black women.

“Women of color and especially Black women are most impacted by these decisions because most of us don’t have the same access to health care, economic opportunity, mental health resources…the list goes on,” she said. “It’s difficult to overstate what this decision is going to do to these communities.”

And Markle, like many people commenting on the Court’s decision, spoke about Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion, in which he says the court “should reconsider” decisions that legalized contraception access, marriage equality and even same-sex relationships.

“This is a blueprint for reversing rights. The ruling is a signal about the future of same-sex marriage, contraception access, and many fundamental rights to privacy,” she said. “It feels like the tip of the iceberg and is part of why people feel so scared. We have to channel that fear into action. We can start this November in the midterms. I know hearing that feels so repetitive, but we have to vote, every time, from local elections to state and national elections.”

While Markle is working with Steinem to get the ERA ratified and previously joined with her to support voter-registration efforts in 2020, she urged men, like her “feminist” husband, to get involved too.

“Men need to be vocal in this moment and beyond because these are decisions that affect relationships, families, and communities at large. They may target women, but the consequences impact all of us. My husband and I talked about that a lot over the past few days. He’s a feminist too,” she said. “And his reaction last week was guttural, like mine. I know that for so many women right now, there is a sentiment of despair. But again, we have to band together and not wallow. We have to do the work.”

Since stepping away from the British royal family in early 2020, Markle and Harry have taken up residence in Montecito, California, and the two have inked a podcast pact with Spotify and overall deal with Netflix.

For Steinem, having public figures like Markle and Harry speak about reproductive access is “very, very, very important.”

“We trust them and nothing but nothing replaces trust. It is the most important quality or attribute,” she said. “We can see things on television and not believe them or not trust them. But when people like these two tell us, then we trust it.”

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