If you think Alyssa Milano got her start in activism with the #MeToo movement, think again. Back in the 1980s, during the height of the popularity of her sitcom Who’s the Boss, Milano appeared on national TV with Ryan White — a young man who had contracted HIV through a blood transfusion — and kissed him, to prove that HIV isn’t transmitted through casual contact. In that moment, she became one of the strongest voices in HIV/AIDS advocacy, and she hasn’t stopped since. In fact, her activism has only gotten broader: of course amplifying the #MeToo movement, but also in the area of reproductive health.
Milano, who has recently been named the ACLU artist ambassador for reproductive freedom, thinks the abortion issue comes down to two separate belief systems: one based on religion and another based on science.
“I think that you can’t separate the fact that they’re trying to take away our access to birth control and trying to take away access to safe abortions,” Milano said, speaking at #BlogHer Health 2019 in Los Angeles in conversation with SHE Media CEO Samantha Skey. “Does that mean they want us to not have sex? Are women not worthy of sexual pleasure? What does that mean as far as the religious scope of it? Because I’m pretty sure there’s nothing about that in the Bible. I don’t know how we overcome that.”
Along the same lines, Milano made it clear that words matter when it comes to how we discuss and frame the conversation on reproductive rights.
“I refuse to call people who are anti-abortion ‘pro-life’ because everyone is fucking pro-life,” she said. “So what they come down to is they’re anti-choice. They’re taking away our choice. That I have a problem with. And the fact that any religious ideology would trump scientific facts.”
The challenge, Milano explained, is getting everyone involved in the fight for reproductive rights.
“I look at my daughter and the idea that she wouldn’t have physical autonomy over her life or even being able to pick when she’d be ready to have a child, and it’s terrifying to me,” she said. “And it’s a topic nobody really wants to talk about, much like mental illness and racism.”
Speaking of racism, Milano said that it has a huge impact on access to abortion.
“Rich white people will always be able to afford and get a safe abortion,” she said. “So the rights they’re trying to strip away from us are going to hurt the marginalized and the women who are most at-risk, who have very low incomes, who are not going to be able to travel to a different state to get a safe abortion… Unfortunately, in this country, a lot of it stems back to racism.”
If this sounds like the beginning of a political platform, that’s because it is. Though she said she doesn’t know what the trajectory of running for office looks like — or whether it would be on a local, state or national level — it’s something she has thought about. And when Skey asked if she’d run in 2028, Milano said, “Maybe.”
“Who wants to grow old in the entertainment industry?” she asked. “How cool is Nancy Pelosi right now — with gorgeous skin and her beautiful Jackie O suits? That’s what I want to be… I want to be Nancy Pelosi.”
As far as we’re concerned, that’s definitely a possibility.
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