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Kerry Washington had a secret abortion in her 20s. Why she's sharing it now

Washington said she "struggled" about whether to include the moment in her memoir.
/ Source: TODAY

Kerry Washington is detailing her experience of "shame" and "hypocrisy" regarding the termination of her pregnancy in her 20s.

She notes in her memoir, "Thicker Than Water," releasing on Sept. 26, that she had an abortion in the early 2000s amid her budding career. By that point, she'd filmed "Save the Last Dance" in 2001 and landed the lead role in 2003 dramedy "She Hate Me."

To protect her privacy and her career, the “Scandal” star says she provided a fake name to doctors who performed her abortion, according to an interview Washington did with PEOPLE.

Washington said she initially debated whether to publicly share that she had an abortion in her book.

“I struggled a lot in the beginning with whether or not to include my abortion story,” she told People. “At first I wasn’t really sure how it fit into this story of my life. But I started to feel like it was really important for me to share this.”

Washington said throughout the journey, she felt "shame" and "a degree of hypocrisy," according to People. She had been a sexual health educator in her teens.

She said she ultimately chose to disclose the segment to dissipate any shame associated with the procedure.

“This story had so much to do with my understanding of myself and the world as my career unfolded,” she said, later adding: “It’s just so important to me that abortion is not a bad word, and that my abortion is not another thing on the list of things that I’m ashamed of.”

Abortion has been at the forefront of political and familial debates especially since the Supreme Court of the United States overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 case that had made abortion a constitutional right, in 2022.

The hot button issue is one Washington felt the crossfires of in 2019 when her "Scandal" character, Olivia Pope, terminated her pregnancy.

Washington said told The Huffington Post in 2020 that she received online hate over the "Scandal" scene.

“A lot of the people that may have reacted negatively are probably blocked on my Twitter, because I tend to be a pretty outspoken person when it comes to all kinds of human rights -- women’s reproductive rights, immigrants’ rights, workers’ rights, rights for people of color, voting rights,” she told The Huffington Post.

“I have no problem with people expressing a difference of opinion ... but I do block people who express violence, sexism, racism -- that’s inexcusable to me,” she added.

“I just think it’s important that we remind ourselves that we live in a country where choice is important, and I was grateful to be able to portray a character who makes a choice and doesn’t have shame about it,” she said.

Washington said, in the recent People interview, that talking openly about abortion is a way to meet the moment of eroding abortion rights.

“We’re at a moment where it’s really important to be telling the truth about our reproductive choices because some of those choices are being stripped away from us,” she said, later adding: “I’m telling my truth about my life, excavating some of my secrets,” she explains, “I don’t want my not telling it to make anybody think there is shame to be had.”

Washington and her husband, Nnamdi Asomugha, have three children: A teenager, who is Washington's stepdaughter, and Isabelle, 9, and Caleb, 6.