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Cecily Strong shares her abortion story on live TV in game-changing 'clown abortion' SNL skit

Strong dresses up as Goober the clown, who got an abortion and urged more women to speak out on getting abortions.

Cecily Strong shares her abortion story on live TV in game-changing 'clown abortion' SNL skit
Image source: YouTube screenshot/SNL/NBC

Cecily Strong and “Saturday Night Live” pushed the envelope with a skit about abortion while dressing up in a clown costume to make the 'taboo' topic more palatable for the audience. At least one in four women have an abortion but it is still considered taboo, and hence isn't discussed enough on public platforms and in homes. Comedian Cecily Strong dressed up as a clown to talk about abortion at a time when the recently passed Texas law is being argued in the U.S. Supreme Court. Strong featured as Goober the clown and spoke about seeking an abortion on the eve of her 23rd birthday, reported CNN.


"Goober, you had an abortion when you were 23?" asks Colin Jost, the host of SNL update. "Whoa, slow down, I'm a clown. Let's clown around," says Goober. After pulling a silly prank on Jost, she casually mentions, "I had an abortion before my 23rd birthday," while the audience is still laughing at the prank. "I wish I didn't have to do this, because the abortion I had at 23 is my personal clown business," said Strong, hinting at a personal experience of the comedian. In her new memoir, 'This Will All Be Over Soon,' Strong hints the same, writing that she was pregnant at 23, before adding that she was soon 'not pregnant anymore.' She later confirmed she was speaking of her own experience. "I didn't tell my own wonderful and supportive mom for years and Saturday I told live TV," Strong wrote on Instagram, before adding three clown emojis.

In the skit, Goober the clown entertains and plays the fool with gimmicks, including spinning her bow tie, as she narrates her abortion experience, highlighting the lack of conversation on abortions and the rhetoric surrounding it.



Abortion is a touchy topic in the American political landscape with conservatives criminalizing women seeking reproductive healthcare and shouting 'murder' at women opting for an abortion. Cecily Strong's caricaturish portrayal of Goober intercut with her talking about the rhetoric around abortion and the importance of access to reproductive healthcare. Strong points out how common abortion is, stating that many people "don't even know how to talk to other clowns about it," before stating that one in four women will have an abortion. She then points out how normal abortion is but "they don't tell you about it" and they argue "clown abortion wasn't a righteous clown abortion."

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Comedian Cecily Strong poses backstage at Global Citizen: The World On Stage at NYU Skirball Center on September 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Global Citizen)


While Strong is constantly clowning around, her message paints a dark picture of America criminalizing abortion. Strong gets more agitated with each passing second while still constantly making forced jokes, in an absurd and discomforting manner that shakes up the viewer and forces them to confront the reality of abortions and how it has helped women lead happy lives. She says that as more women come forward with abortion stories, they realize pretty much everyone else has had one. "Everyone's excited and relieved to be talking about it. We kept this secret for so long, despite being so grateful and happy," says Strong. 





Strong breaks character just once, switching to her true voice, for just one line and it lasts for merely a second. “I’m not a clown," she plainly says, before abruptly continuing in her high-pitched voice in a poignant moment in the skit. "I know I wouldn't be a clown on TV here today if it weren't for the abortion I had the day before my 23rd birthday," she said. "Clowns have been helping each other and their pregnancies since the caves. It's going to happen, so it ought to be safe, legal, and accessible," says Strong, before concluding, "We will not go back to the alley; The last thing anyone wants is a bunch of dead clowns in a dark alley." Strong draws a parallel between women resorting to dangerous methods for abortions in a strong finish to the skit. 



Lauren Cross, a spokesperson for the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization that supports abortion rights, lauded the skit. "The main point that Cecily Strong made is spot on: abortion is a widely shared and common experience, certainly since (the US Supreme Court ruling Roe v. Wade made abortions legal in all 50 states back in 1973), and also before that. People of all ages, races, and religions have abortions," Cross wrote to CNN. Despite conservatives being at the forefront of the anti-abortion movement, Guttmacher Institute found that the majority of people who obtain an abortion have a religious affiliation. Data from 2014 showed that only 38% of people who had an abortion reported no religious affiliation. Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of abortion storytelling organization We Testify, pointed out that people realizing so many women have had abortions pokes a hole in the anti-abortion movement. "I think the way the anti-abortion movement wins is making us think that we are alone and that no one cares for people who have abortions that we are these random abstract ideas instead of people," said Sherman.



American Psychological Association found that not having access to abortion made a patient more likely to experience poverty and it also made them more likely to stay in contact with a violent partner. The Texas law poses a real threat to safe access to reproductive healthcare and it's currently being discussed in the Supreme Court.

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - SEPTEMBER 27: Pro-choice activists demonstrate in the federal building plaza while a press conference was being held to call for an end to bans on abortions on September 27, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. On October 2 marches are scheduled to take place in every state in support of reproductive rights. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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