Jennifer Grey reflects on her abortion post-Roe: ‘I’d always wanted a child. I just didn’t want a child as a teenager’

A few hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Jennifer Grey sat down to talk with the Los Angeles Times. The actress admitted that while she felt “emotional” about the fact that the Dobbs decision means there is no longer a federal constitutional right to abortion, she wasn't surprised.

“Even though I’ve seen it coming, even though we’ve been hearing what’s coming, it doesn’t feel real,” she said of the ruling. “This is just so fundamentally wrong. It is sounding a bell for all women to rise up and use their voice now because we have assumed, since 1973, that our choice was safe and that it was never going to be overturned.”

Abortion rights are personal to Grey, who reflected on her own decision to terminate a pregnancy as a teenager. Grey described it as a “grave decision” that “stays with you” for years. Still, in hindsight, she knew it was the right choice for her.

“I wouldn’t have my life. I wouldn’t have had the career I had, I wouldn’t have had anything,” she said of the decision to end the pregnancy. “And it wasn’t for lack of taking it seriously. I’d always wanted a child. I just didn’t want a child as a teenager. I didn’t want a child where I was [at] in my life.”

Art certainly imitated life around this time, too. In Dirty Dancing, there's a scene where the character Penny (Cynthia Rhodes), a dancer at the resort where Grey's character is staying, has an illegal abortion. The film was set in 1963, before Roe v. Wade was the law of the land.

Looking back, Grey said she was grateful to put a storyline like that out in the world.

“We saw someone who was hemorrhaging,” Grey said of the film. “We saw what happens to people without means — the haves and the have nots. I love that part of the storyline because it was really a feminist movie in a rom-com. It was a perfect use of history.”

Grey, who also writes about overcoming body dysphoria as a young actor in Hollywood, explained that sharing her private life with the world in this way was quite healing for her.

“I grapple with my ability to tell the truth in a way that might hurt anybody,” she said. “Because it is so, so deeply part of my DNA, to not want to hurt people because I want to wish no harm. And to not care what other people think of me, or that I’m disliked or people are angry at me is very painful for me, but it’s almost like the exposure I need to expose myself."

“Before I die, I want to be able to not look to other people for my worth or for my opinion of myself, to not have it be so up for grabs,” she continued. “And so writing the book was real, right in the middle of that struggle of how can I tell my truth and my story, my story, because everyone has a right to telling their story.”

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