A resurfaced interview shows the late Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds—the star of such classics as Singin' in the Rain and The Unsinkable Molly Brown—sharing a story about her near-death experience being forced to carry a dead fetus to term in the time before Roe v. Wade.
The interview received renewed attention in the days since the United States Supreme Court voted to overturn Roe, the 1973 landmark decision that once protected a person's right to choose reproductive healthcare without excessive government restriction.
In the 1989 interview, Reynolds told host Joan Rivers she suffered a miscarriage in the time before Roe and her doctors refused to remove the dead fetus even after it “died inside of” her when she was about seven months along.
You can hear Reynolds' remarks in the video below.
Reynolds told Rivers the experience was "something that I have never forgotten, the pain of it."
At the time, she already had two children—Carrie and Todd—with her ex-husband, the singer Eddie Fisher. She wanted to have more children with her second husband, Harry Karl, the President of Karl's Shoe Stores.
Though she did become pregnant early in the marriage, she said she lost the pregnancy in the third trimester.
She found that she could not do anything about it, saying:
"In those days, there were no abortions allowed, whether you were ill, whether you were raped, whether the child died, which is disgusting to think there is those laws. It’s ridiculous."
She said she was told she would have to carry the dead fetus to "full term" because "That was the law. It didn't matter," adding:
“It had to abort itself—it could not be taken from me. It’s insane to think that could be.”
Ironically, doctors eventually removed the fetus once they determined Reynolds' life was at risk but they only did so once "a board" had taken a vote.
Reynolds recalled 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."
Reynolds recuperated for over a year to "get rid of the poisons that they put in me and all this junk to take this child out.” And while she did become pregnant again, that pregnancy also resulted in a miscarriage.
The second time, however, she was able to receive life-saving care because the doctors who attended to her knew about her previous experience and listened to her when she demanded the dead fetus be removed immediately.
The interview resonated with many women who warned the recent Supreme Court ruling indicates the United States is regressing.
Reynolds died in 2016 after suffering a stroke only a day after the death of her daughter, the actress and author Carrie Fisher who was best known for starring as Princess Leia Organa in the Star Wars films.
Though widely identified with her role as the starlet Kathy Selden in Singin' in the Rain and often parodied long after starring in The Unsinkable Molly Brown, Reynolds also starred in films like The Catered Affair and How the West Was Won and would win the hearts and minds of children around the nation as the voice of Charlotte, a spider who dedicates her life to saving a pig from slaughter in the animated Charlotte's Web.
In later years, she dabbled in more voice work and experienced a career resurgence with a Golden-Globe nominated role as the eponymous Mother, a comedic turn in In and Out, as Agatha Cromwell in the popular Halloweentown series for Disney and an Emmy-nominated turn on Will and Grace as Grace Adler's overbearing mother Bobbi, whose rousing rendition of "Good Morning" was a sly wink to fans of Reynolds' most famous film role.