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Busy Philipps testifies before Congress on abortion and threats to Americans' reproductive rights

Busy Philipps testifies to Congress on abortion
Busy Philipps testifies before Congress on abortion and threats to reproductive rights 05:08

In early May, after Georgia passed the controversial "fetal heartbeat" bill banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy, actress Busy Philipps got emotional on her E! late-night talk show, revealing for the first time on national television that she had an abortion herself at the age of 15.

"The statistic is that 1 in 4 women will have an abortion before age 45," she said, as tears filled her eyes. "That statistic sometimes surprises people. And maybe you're sitting there thinking, 'I don't know a woman who would have an abortion.' Well, you know me."

A week later, after Alabama joined Georgia in taking aim at Roe v. Wade, passing the nation's most restrictive abortion bill, Philipps took to social media, asking other women to share their truths as well. "If you are also the 1 in 4, let's share it and start to end the shame," the actress wrote in a tweet. "Use #youknowme and share your truth."

The tweet, which has now garnered tens of thousands of likes and retweets, sparked the viral social media campaign #youknowme that is now being compared to #MeToo. Hundreds of thousands of women responded to the call, sharing their personal stories, including accounts of rape, abusive relationships and very wanted children that had severe fetal anomalies.

So, Tuesday, when a House Judiciary subcommittee held a hearing on threats to reproductive rights in America, Busy Philipps was one of eight witnesses invited to testify. 

"I had my abortion when I was 15 years old, in my home state of Arizona in 1994. It was not a decision I made lightly. But I have never for a moment doubted that it was the right decision for me," the actress testified before Congress. "But so much has changed — in Arizona and other states — since then."

"If I were that 15 year old girl in Arizona today, legally I would have to get parental consent. I would be forced to undergo a medically unnecessary ultrasound, to go to a state-mandated in-person counseling, designed solely to shame me into changing my mind, then take a state-mandated 24-hour time out to make sure I really knew what I wanted. And finally, I would be forced to give the state a reason WHY. Well, here is mine: my body belongs to me, not the state. Women and their doctors are in the best position to make informed decisions about what is best for them. No one else."

The former "Dawson's Creek" actress then went on to share how — and why — she was uncomfortable with being called "brave" for her candor.

Busy Philipps talks about her period – and she thinks you should too 01:32

"In the week after I shared my story on my show, women were coming up to me on the street, in the supermarket and at the gym with tears in their eyes, thanking me for my bravery. But the word bravery didn't sit right with me. Why is it brave to speak to an experience millions of people in the world throughout history have gone through? And then I realized. It is considered brave because as women we have been taught to feel shame about our bodies from birth," Philipps told the assembled lawmakers. "In my life I have had many medical procedures. But no one has ever called me 'brave' for talking about them. Abortion is health care, and should not be treated as different from any other health care."

This isn't the first time the "Busy Tonight" host has spoken out about the stigma surrounding women's health issues and how problematic the consequent silence and shaming can be. She has talked about menstruation on her show and her social media accounts, and even took part in the CBSN Originals documentary, "Period. Half the population has one. But no one talks about it." Watch the video below:

Period. Half the population has one. But no one talks about it. 22:52

"Something that happens to half the population once a month shouldn't be a taboo subject," she told CBS News. "If men had their periods, it would be like f***ing celebrated. You know, it would be like a holiday. They would get the week off of work and probably the week before and then like the four days after their period ends, so that they could recover. It would just be a different experience, but men do not get periods. Women get periods."

So, it seems the brazen comedic actress, once best known for her work in "Cougar Town" and "Freaks and Geeks," has now become one of the fiercest defenders of women's reproductive rights in America today.

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