US and Canada

Alabama abortion bill ignites women's stories with #youknowme

Busy Phillips Image copyright Paul Archuleta/Getty
Image caption Busy Philipps tweeted: "Use #youknowme and share your truth"

Women have been sharing impassioned stories of how they terminated their pregnancies following Alabama's vote for an almost blanket ban on abortion.

The hashtag #youknowme has begun circulating on social media following a plea from actress and talk show host Busy Philipps.

Philipps asked social media users to share their abortion stories in a move echoing the 2017 #metoo hashtag, which gained momentum when actress Alyssa Milano asked victims of sexual assault to speak out.

"1 in 4 women have had an abortion. Many people think they don't know someone who has, but #youknowme," Philipps tweeted to her 367,000 followers.

"So let's do this: if you are also the 1 in 4, let's share it and start to end the shame. Use #youknowme and share your truth," she urged in a Twitter post which has been liked more than 14,000 times since being posted early on Wednesday.

Image copyright Reuters

Philipps' tweet was in response to Alabama becoming the latest US state to move to restrict abortions.

Under the bill, doctors could face 10 years in prison for attempting to terminate a pregnancy and 99 years for carrying out the procedure.

High profile celebrities who have come out in opposition to the bill include comedian Sarah Silverman, actress Alyssa Milano and Captain America star Chris Evans.

Pop star Lady Gaga called the bill "a travesty".

Read more on the Alabama abortion bill

So what is the meaning behind 'you know me'? Last week on her talk show Busy Tonight on the E! cable channel the actress shared that she had an abortion when she was a teenager.

Image copyright EEntertainment/YouTube

"Maybe you're sitting there thinking I don't know a woman who would have an abortion, well you know me. I had an abortion when I was 15 years old," she told viewers while fighting back tears.

"I'm telling you this because I'm genuinely really scared for women and girls in this country.

"I think we should be talking more and sharing our stories more."

On Wednesday hundreds of women responded to Philipps' call on Twitter using the hashtag to share their own abortion stories.

Another read: "I was 19, in college, I was on the pill. I was doing everything I was 'supposed' to do to pull myself from poverty #youknowme."

In a separate tweet one woman described her abortion experience at the age of 22: "Very scared, unstable relationship, grieving my moms death the year before. Prayed on my knees the morning of. Cried and cried and cried. Noregrets #YouKnowMe."

Jameela Jamil, who stars on Netflix show The Good Place, also revealed she once had an abortion.

"It was the best decision I have ever made. Both for me, and for the baby I didn't want, and wasn't ready for, emotionally, psychologically and financially," she posted in a tweet on Monday.

Another Twitter user shared the story of her elderly neighbour who told her about the time she was forced to have an illegal abortion along with other pregnant girls.

"One girl bled out and died. She still shakes when she tells the story, she tweeted.

While the overwhelming voices on social media were against the Alabama bill there was some support. In a tweet to her 163,000 followers TV and radio personality Dr Gina Loudon said she was 'proud' of the developments in her home state.

Another twitter user commented: "YESSSSS!! So happy that Alabama is stepping up and protecting those that can't protect themselves! This has been a long time coming!!"

Supporters of the bill say they expect the law to be blocked in court but hope that the appeals process will bring it before the Supreme Court.

They want the court, which now has a conservative majority, to overturn a 1973 ruling that legalised abortion in the US.