Actor Mark Ruffalo on his mother’s illegal abortion: ‘Shameful’ and ‘demeaning’

Mark Ruffalo
Mark Ruffalo
File photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP

Actor Mark Ruffalo spoke at an abortion rights rally in Jackson, Miss. on Saturday, opening up about his mother who was “forced to illegally have an abortion in her state where abortion was illegal.”

Standing outside the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Mississippi’s last abortion clinic, the actor said that no woman should ever have to experience something so “traumatizing,” “shameful and sleazy and demeaning.”

Ruffalo joins a long list of high-profile celebrities who have publicly spoke out in favor of reproductive rights. Last year, actors including Meryl Streep, Kevin Bacon, Lisa Kudrow, Amy Poehler and Sarah Silverman signed a Bill of Reproductive Rights promoted by the Center for Reproductive Rights’ “Draw the Line” campaign. The bill backed readily accessible pregnancy care, contraception and the right to abortion. Actor Martha Plimpton also co-founded the “A Is For” campaign that champions women and their right to basic reproductive health care.

Other stars including Whitney Cummings, Stanley Tucci, and Mehcad Brooks released a web video earlier this year coming out in support of the cause.

Last month, a widely-read New York Times opinion piece titled “My Mother’s Abortion” urged other women to speak out and come forward with their abortion experiences. While Texas State Senator Wendy Davis filibustered on the Texas State Senate floor, Beth Matusoff Merfish sat with her mother in the gallery. In the piece, Merfish writes about how her mother had to cross state lines to have a legal abortion as a young woman and later became an abortion rights activist after her experience.

“Stories like my mother’s are rarely spoken out loud,” Merfish wrote.

Ruffalo’s speech was emotional and personal.

I am a man. I could say this has nothing to do with me. Except I have two daughters and I have a mother who was forced to illegally have an abortion in her state where abortion was illegal when she was a very young woman. It cost $600 cash. It was a traumatizing thing for her. It was shameful and sleazy and demeaning. When I heard the story I was aghast by the lowliness of a society that would make a woman do that. I could not understand its lack of humanity; today is no different.

I invite you to find your voice and let it be known that you stand for abortion rights and the dignity of a woman to be the master of her own life and body. I invite you to search your soul and ask yourself if you actually stand for what you say you stand for. Thank you for being here today and thank you for standing up for the women in my life.

Sincerely and humbly,

Mark Ruffalo

Read the whole speech here.

Actor Mark Ruffalo on his mother's illegal abortion: 'Shameful' and 'demeaning'