Penny Marshall, director of Hollywood hits like Big and Jumping Jack Flash and star of TV’s “Laverne and Shirley,” released a tell-all memoir this week, My Mother is Nuts. One of the many revelatory confessions included in its pages is the abortion she had when she was in her 40s.
So, this is Hollywood we’re talking about. It’s not the fact that Marshall had an abortion that is shocking. But the language she uses to describe it is jaw-dropping in its callous disregard for human life.
From Fox News:
In 1963 I got pregnant. I had a kid. Abortion was illegal. I was 40 something years old. I had a kid already, my womb wasn’t crying out. I talked to my brother (Garry Marshall). We made the pros and cons. I had a kid already. Joe Pesci offered to be the father. I didn’t want to do that to him. It was more do I want this other person in my life, for the rest of my life.
All right, let’s break this down. She had a kid in 1963. “Abortion was illegal,” she says. This kinda gives you the impression she might not have had the kid if abortion were legal. So now, although the speech is a bit jumbled, it appears she’s talking about the aborted child when she says, “I was 40 something years old.”
At this point she talks about her reasons for aborting. She names three.
1. She already had a kid. I mean, come on! She let one of them live! Two is asking a little much. Her womb was “not crying out.” But the baby inside it may have cried out, if she could have.
2. She didn’t want to inflict fatherhood on Joe Pesci. Now, that’s a humanitarian talking. And who can blame her? Joe Pesci was extremely busy playing violent psychopaths in mob movies.
3. She didn’t want “this other person in [her] life, for the rest of [her] life.” ‘Cause I mean, ugh. Another whole person? Sheesh.
But isn’t it interesting that she does call this baby a person? She acknowledges that much.
Here’s what Marshall told ET:
“It was my life that I was dealing with and so I have a right to an opinion,” she said of her decision to terminate the surprise pregnancy. “I already had a kid — it wasn’t like it was my first kid.”
Penny Marshall is obsessed with the fact that this was not her “first kid.” Would it have been worse if she didn’t already have a child? She seems to imply that it would. Hearing her repeat this over and over makes me wonder if this is just a lame justification she has created in her own mind to help her deal with the guilt.
“I didn’t wish I hadn’t [had the abortion],” said Marshall. “[Up until then] I was one of the few people who said, ‘No I’d never did that’ [sic] — every friend I had had done that. But they should have the right.”
I guess it’s not surprising that show biz types love to have abortions. What sticks out to me here is Marshall’s professed lack of regret.
But here’s the part that will make you spit your coffee out a little:
In her memoir out today (My Mother is Nuts), the now 69-year-old, freely admits she was stunned to learn of the pregnancy because she wasn’t dating anyone regularly during the period the child was conceived.
Well, obviously she was stunned. Because we all know from basic human biology classes and “birds and the bees” talks with our parents that only when a man and a lady date regularly can a baby grow in a lady’s tummy.
Pleeeeease, Penny Marshall and the world at large, give me a small break and stop saying you are “stunned” when you get pregnant. From the beginning of time, unless you are paying lots of money to a fertility doctor (at which point you will probably not be “stunned” by pregnancy), there is only one way for women to get pregnant. I’ll give you three guesses what it is. (Hint: it is not “regular dating.”)
Here’s something else that makes no sense. According to The Inquisitr:
Speaking out about an abortion, though it is an experience many women share, is still considered a transgressive act in Hollywood.
They must be talking about another Hollywood, because I seem to recall many tragic, brave abortion confessions from attention-seeking actresses and TV personalities. Chelsea Handler leaps annoyingly to mind.
Then there are the other, even sadder confessions, from those like Sharon Osbourne:
The former “Osbournes” star said she suffered three miscarriages after having an abortion at the age of 17 due to damage sustained by her cervix. The 59-year-old mother of three said, “Everybody has something in the closet, and I reckon the best policy is always to be honest, then it can’t come back to haunt you.” Calling her abortion “the worst thing I ever did,” she states that should would “never recommend” the procedure to anyone.
Sharon’s story gets worse:
I was two months gone when I realised. I went to my mum and she said, without pausing for breath: ‘You have to get rid of it.’
She told me where the clinic was, then virtually pushed me off. She was so angry. She said I’d got myself in this mess, now she had to get me out.
But she didn’t come. I went alone. I was terrified. It was full of other young girls, and we were all terrified and looking at each other and nobody was saying a bloody word. I howled my way through it, and it was horrible.
This vivid story of a young woman going alone to a clinic full of terrified girls and “howling” her way through the awful procedure is no doubt closer to the average abortion narrative than a Hollywood star trying to save Joe Pesci some trouble.
Still, both confessions are tragic: Sharon Osbourne’s because she recognizes the damage done to her own body and psyche, if not the destruction of her child, and Penny Marshall because, after all this time, she just does not get it.