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Rita Moreno Reflects on Her Botched Abortion, 'Unfair' Roe v. Wade Ruling

The West Side Story star fears for young girls following the Supreme Court ruling.
  • Rita Moreno (Photo: Everett Collection)
    Rita Moreno (Photo: Everett Collection)

    Rita Moreno is opening up about the botched abortion she received years prior to Roe v. Wade, and her fears for those seeking reproductive care in a world where the landmark decision has been overturned.

    Speaking to Variety on Friday, Moreno recalled becoming pregnant with her then-partner Marlon Brando, who helped her get an abortion before they were federally protected.

    "Marlon found a doctor through some friends," said Moreno. "He was a real doctor — Marlon paid him $500 — as opposed to something in a back alley."

    However, after the procedure Moreno began to bleed. She soon found out the doctor hadn't actually performed a full abortion. "I had what they told me was a 'disturbed pregnancy.' The doctor didn’t do anything really, except make me bleed," said the West Side Story star. "In other words, he didn't do it right. I didn't know it then, but I could have died. What a mess. What a dreadful mess."

    Following the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Moreno said she is "nervous and frightened and horrified" for women. "I can see that thing happening now and going back to back alleys," she said. "I can’t believe that some of those people are telling us what to do with our bodies."

    The actress, who is now 90, recalls feeling "jubilant" when the Roe v. Wade decision became law. Nearly 50 years later, she is "depressed" by the latest ruling, despite concerns that it would happen eventually. "Hilary Clinton warned everybody about this. I’m not shocked because I saw it coming but I'm stunned," said Moreno.

    Moreno said her concerns are for "the young girls" throughout the nation. "Taking it to the most extreme, girls who get pregnant because of rape or incest," she said. "Unfair isn't a strong enough word, but it's unfair."

    Moreno discussed her abortion in her 2021 documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It. The film is available to stream on Netflix.

    Kirstie Renae is a writer, blogger, and Austin-based actress with a penchant for binge-watching TV with her dogs. Follow her on Twitter @KirstieRenae.

    TOPICS: Rita Moreno, Netflix, Rita Moreno: The Girl Who Decided to Go For It, West Side Story, Marlon Brando, abortion, Roe v. Wade, U.S. Supreme Court