Debbie Reynolds recalls near-death stillborn experience in resurfaced clip amid Roe v Wade reversal

An interview of the late Hollywood star Debbie Reynolds talking about how she carried a deceased fetus to term has resurfaced online following the United States Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v Wade, which legalised abortion throughout the country nearly 50 years ago.

In the 1989 interview with the late television host Joan Rivers, Reynolds detailed her experience of being forced by doctors to carry a stillborn fetus to term because abortion was against the law at the time. The Singin’ in the Rain star already had two children – Todd and Carrie Fisher – from her previous marriage when she decided to start a family with her second husband, Harry Karl.

“I was pregnant seven months and the baby died inside of me,” she told Rivers. “But I didn’t know it. It just sort of shrunk down a little bit.

“It was a very hard thing to get over because in those days there were no abortions allowed – whether you were ill, or whether you were raped, or whether the child died, which is disgusting to think there is those laws. It’s ridiculous.”

The legendary actress then revealed that she was forced to carry the fetus to “full-term” prior to the Supreme Court’s initial ruling on Roe v Wade in 1973.

“That was the law. It didn’t matter. It had to abort itself, it could not be taken from me. It’s insane to think that really could be,” she said.

Reynolds called the experience particularly painful because she still appeared pregnant and people would ask her, “How’s the baby? What name are you going to name the baby?”

“It’s something that I’ve never forgotten and the pain of it and a lot of women go through this sort of thing,” she said.

Eventually, doctors had to perform an abortion because Reynolds was the dead fetus was making her ill.

“They couldn’t leave it anymore because now the child is in the sac but, of course, finally after so much time, all the poisons and everything would have killed me,” she explained. “So, they finally agreed – some board, imagine – they would try to take this child out, but at this point now, it was more dangerous than ever.”

After a number of months, Reynolds was “lucky enough” to get pregnant again, although she suffered the same experience.“

“The same thing happened. Second baby dies, just like that,” Reynolds said. “This time, I said, ‘I don’t want to know from Congress. I don’t want to know from any of you. You are taking this baby now.’”

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v Wade, many social media users took the opportunity to call out the court’s ruling by sharing the video of Reynold talking about her harrowing experience and pro-choice stance on abortion.

“Debbie Reynolds tells Joan Rivers about her abortion experience in the 1960s. This clip is from 1989,” tweeted Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi with a TikTok of the interview.

“I can’t begin to put into words my feelings about the recent barbaric decision to overturn Roe vs Wade in the Dystopian States of America,” tweeted writer and television producer Alison Martino. “This is Debbie Reynolds speaking about her own experience in the 60’s… it’s hard to listen to but this is what’s going to happen again.”

On 24 June, the Supreme Court ruled in favour of a Mississippi law blocking abortion at 15 weeks of pregnancy, deciding that there is no constitutional right to abortion despite decades of federal protections for abortion access since 1973. In doing so, the nation’s highest court struck down a 50-year precedent set by Roe v Wade and later affirmed by 1994’s Planned Parenthood v Casey.

Now, states are left to determine whether to ban the procedure and force women to carry pregnancies to term, much like the case for Reynolds.