Years before the Supreme Court’s 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision, Marlon Brando sent Rita Moreno to have an abortion when she became pregnant while they were dating.
“Marlon found a doctor through some friends,” Moreno, 90, recalled Friday morning during a phone conversation shortly after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. “He was a real doctor — Marlon paid him $500 — as opposed to something in a back alley.”
Even so, when the “West Side Story” Oscar winner returned home after the procedure, she began to bleed. It turned out that the doctor didn’t perform a full abortion. “Marlon took me to the hospital. I had what they told me was a ‘disturbed pregnancy,’” Moreno said. “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. What a mess. What a dreadful mess.”
Moreno first revealed the botched abortion in her 2011 book “Rita Moreno: A Memoir.” She also discussed it in her 2021 documentary, “Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for it.” “I can see that thing happening now and going back to back alleys,” she told me. “I’m really nervous and frightened and horrified that this is taking place. I can’t believe that some of those people are telling us what to do with our bodies.”
Moreno remembers when the Roe v. Wade decision became the law of the land: “I was jubilant.”
As “depressed” as she is by today’s ruling, Moreno also, like so many, isn’t completely surprised. “Hilary Clinton warned everybody about this,” she said. “I’m not shocked because I saw it coming but I’m stunned.”
She continued, “I think about the young girls. Taking it to the most extreme, girls who get pregnant because of rape or incest. Unfair isn’t a strong enough word, but it’s unfair.”
After a short pause, Moreno said, “I’m sorry I’m not the most articulate today but I’m just shocked.”
But that won’t stop her from moving forward. “We loud mouths are going to have to get busy,” Moreno said. “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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