Vanessa Williams’ Abortion Suddenly Makes Her Relevant

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vanessa william abortionIn her new memoir, You Have No Idea, Vanessa Williams reveals two big secrets: she was molested at age 10 by an older teenage girl and, at age 18, she had an abortion. “Being pregnant is the most frightening thing that happens in your life and I knew in high school that that was something I was not prepared to do or fight or struggle with,” Williams told ABC’s Juju Chang when asked about the latter. Needless to say, the pregnancy was unplanned, and Williams went on to have four children – Melanie, Jillian, Devin and Sasha – ranging in age from 11 to 24.

Of course, the critics have come out in droves – as have the supporters. In fact, 49-year-old Williams has become somewhat of an inadvertent spokesperson for the pro-choice movement. Peruse the comments section of any site and for every commenter who asks why she didn’t just have the baby and give it up for adoption you’ll find another who, for the first time ever, opens up about her own abortion and thanks Williams for the inspiration.

Until now, I’ve never given much thought to Williams. I mean, she was good in Ugly Betty – and people seemed to like her in Desperate Housewives, which I never did get into – but she’s not exactly on the forefront of anyone’s mind when you think of current pop-culture icons. But now, with her latest admissions, she’s brought to the forefront a slew of heavy topics, from abortion to sexual abuse to racism (Williams received death threats after winning the Miss America title in 1983).

I for one can appreciate that Williams tells it like it is and isn’t afraid to talk about her experiences. Sure, some people accuse her of doing it exclusively for the exposure, but so what? It takes guts to reveal your deepest secrets to the world – something not many people are willing to do. In her memoir, Williams shows her vulnerability more than once. For example, she recounts the time she let a photographer take nude photos of her after he promised they’d never be released. Well, you can imagine her surprise when found the photos in the pages of Penthouse magazine – a scandalous move that cost Williams her Miss America crown.

“I’ve learned to embrace my past. I embrace the choices that I have been given in my life,” Williams said. Whether or not you agree with her choices, it’s an important lesson to be learned.

(Photo: Andres Otero/