In her “SNL” sketch, Cecily Strong opened up a dialogue about abortion. Here’s what the experts say

In the Weekend Update segment of the show, the actress explained that the clown costume needs to make the topic a little more palatable to audiences. It was presented in light of a controversial Texas law currently being debated in the United States Supreme Court.

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

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

CNN has contacted NBC to confirm if the performance was indicative of Strong’s personal experience and has not received a response.

For decades, abortion has been a thorny problem. The controversy has become a more important topic of conversation recently in the wake of the Texas Heartbeat Act, which was enacted on May 19 and essentially bans abortion when a fetal heartbeat is detected, usually around six weeks after the onset of pregnancy.

Many media commentators praised Strong’s discussion, but those who oppose the right to abortion have also spoken online to call her flippant about a serious issue.

Strong’s fashionable drawing performance on Saturday fell at a particularly relevant time, as Fridays and Saturdays are a busy time for abortion clinics, said Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of the storytelling organization. abortion We Testify.

There may have been a patient, lying in bed at home, recovering from his procedure after a long day of screaming protest and waiting at a clinic, who turned on the show to relax, a she declared.

Strong’s appearance may have drawn a curtain to show that the experience they had is shared by many, despite the secrecy and silence surrounding it, Bracey Sherman said – and that was only ‘a beginning of a conversation.


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

She cited a statistic that 1 in 3 women will have an abortion in her lifetime. Current data shows it’s actually one in four women of childbearing age in the United States, but she was right in her post, said Lauren Cross, a spokesperson for the Guttmacher Institute, an advocacy organization. reproductive health research that supports the right to abortion.

“Cecily Strong’s main point is correct: abortion is a widely shared and common experience, certainly since (the United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade made abortions legal in all 50 states in 1973) , and also before that. People of all ages, races and religions have abortions, “Cross said by email.

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

When Strong said she wouldn’t be the “clown” she is today without access to abortion, Cross said the “SNL” star portrayed a situation many patients find themselves in. .

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

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

These limitations have imposed practical barriers on women seeking them, she added. Some states do not allow abortion care to be covered by insurance, others require patients to travel long distances to get to a clinic, and some impose time constraints, leaving patients to fend for themselves. to take time off work and go to several appointments.
A 33-year-old mother of three from central Texas waits to get the green light from medical staff to leave after having an abortion in October at the Hope Medical Group for Women in Shreveport, Louisiana.


In his appearance, Strong referred to a guestbook in a 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 are not a horrible person and your life is not over now”.

“I think the way the anti-abortion movement is winning makes us think that we are alone and that no one cares about people having abortions that we are these random abstract ideas instead of people,” Bracey Sherman said. “Everyone loves someone who has an abortion.”

What Strong described – the experience of hearing other stories and feeling supported – is not the case for all patients, said Dr Meera Shah, chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic.

Shah works primarily in New York City, but once a month she travels to Indiana to offer abortions to less accessible communities. In New York, she says her patients can have an abortion the same day they ask for one.

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

If the abortion wasn’t in response to something traumatic, Strong said many would call it “fair.” Many advocates have pointed out that the stigma surrounding it can be shameful and detrimental to women.

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

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

In the case described by Strong, it took a joke from a medical professional at an abortion appointment to communicate “you are not a horrible person and your life is not over now” .

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

The resources

While many politicians continue debates about abortion, many people still seek them out – and resources are available to help them care for them the way they do, advocates said.

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

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

“These are resources people can turn to if they feel the need to share their story or tell someone about their experience and if they feel like they are a bit alone in this experience.” , she said.

“No abortion experience is the same,” said Bracey Sherman. “Everyone deserves to share their abortion story in whatever way suits them best.”

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