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Rita Moreno Recalls She ‘Could Have Died’ From Botched Abortion in Light of Roe v. Wade Overturn

Upon hearing about Roe v. Wade being overturned on Friday, EGOT winner and Hollywood icon Rita Moreno spoke to Variety about her botched abortion while dating actor Marlon Brando. 

The iconic Puerto Rican actress described how “nervous and frightened and horrified” she is that Roe v. Wade — the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that protects women’s right to abortion — is now officially overturned. She continued, “I can’t believe that some of those people are telling us what to do with our bodies,” and said the new decision “depressed” her.

Moreno is adamant about abortion being a women’s right, particularly because she was there once herself. The “West Side Story” actress dated Brando for eight years, a relationship she described in her memoir “Rita Moreno” as “a crazy love that lasted for years, until one day I quite literally was forced out of a coma and had to choose life over him.” While passionate, it put Moreno’s life in danger — most notably when she became pregnant with his child.

The actress and singer said that once she told Brando she was pregnant, he found “a real doctor” through friends. Paying the doctor $500, it was much different than a procedure done “in a back alley.” Even then, it quickly went wrong. 

Moreno’s doctor had caused her a “disturbed pregnancy” instead of an actual abortion, which made her bleed profusely once at home. She explained, “The doctor didn’t do anything really, except make me bleed. In other words, he didn’t do it right. I didn’t know it then, but I could have died.” Reflecting back on that horrifying moment, she thought aloud, “What a mess. What a dreadful mess.”

Centering on Roe v. Wade being overturned, Moreno can see her own horrible experience “happening now and going back to back alleys,” which is terrifying in every aspect. She also described who the decision will affect the most, thinking “about the young girls” and also “girls who get pregnant because of rape or incest.” As Moreno puts it, “Unfair isn’t a strong enough word.”

The 90-year-old legend is a known supporter of a woman’s right to choose, and even posted a graphic to her Instagram this weekend that read: “I support the right to abortion. Do you?”

Moreno also wrote a caption to accompany her post, questioning, “They think this Supreme Court decision will stop us? Generations have fought for the right to abortion and we won’t let that end with us. We won’t back down because we can’t. This is about each of our lives and our freedom to control our own destinies.”

While Moreno wrote in her memoir that, “Every aspect of being with Marlon was thrilling,” and that meeting him sent her into “a full-body blush,” the affair resulted in constant heartbreak where he “came close to crushing [her] very spirit with his physical infidelities and… emotional betrayals.” One of those was the abortion, which to Moreno’s “shock and horror,” he “immediately arranged.”

As the actress now explains it, both her horrifying abortion experience and his cheating almost led her to end her own life. 

Due to the disheartening abortion ban, Moreno says, “We loud mouths are going to have to get busy.” On a hopeful note, she continued, “There are many of us. I’m thinking what are we going to do about this? If anything, this has reactivated us.”

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