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Cecily Strong Delivers Powerful Statement on Abortion Rights on ‘SNL’

Strong appeared on Weekend Update as Goober the Clown, who had an abortion when she was 23.

Last night on Saturday Night Live, Cecily Strong did the unthinkable. She delivered a poignant yet hilarious message about the importance of reproductive rights, all while dressed as a clown. Strong’s desk bit on Weekend Update saw her playing Goober the Clown, who had an abortion when she was 23. Strong came out dressed as a clown, complete with a squirting lapel flower and spinning bowtie. But despite her pleas to just do clown stuff and not discuss her abortion, Cecily/Goober felt compelled to bring up the abortion she had the day before her 23rd birthday.

The piece was a response to Texas’s draconian new abortion law, which effectively outlaws abortion in the state. Copycat laws have been presented in Florida and Ohio, as part of a larger right-wing movement to undo the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case, Roe v. Wade. The end of Roe v. Wade is a frightening possibility thanks to the conservative majority currently sitting on the Supreme Court.

Strong’s clown get-up was an attempt to lighten up the very serious issue of abortion rights, with Strong saying “It’s a rough subject, so we’re going to do fun clown stuff to make it more palatable. Wheee!” She continued to insert the word “clown” in her diatribe, remarking that 1 in 3 clowns have had an abortion in their lifetime, but that no one discusses it so every clown feels alone in their decision.

After sucking down some helium, Strong says, “Here’s my truth: I wouldn’t be a clown here on TV today if it weren’t for the abortion I had the day before my 23rd birthday. Clowns have been helping each other end their pregnancies since the caves. It’s gonna happen, so it ought to be safe, legal, and accessible. We will not go back to the alley, I mean the last thing anyone wants is a bunch of dead clowns in a dark alley.”

Strong’s piece, at less than 4 minutes long, accomplishes so much. She tackles the silencing and shame around safe and legal abortions, the powerlessness that women feel at the hands of the government, and the infuriating ways in which an issue of healthcare is needlessly politicized. Her clown performance is also a statement on the ways in which women’s needs are trivialized and made into a joke, while providing meta commentary about comedians delivering serious messages around reproductive rights.

It’s a bracing, brilliant performances that tempers humor with an emotionally vulnerable personal statement. Cecily Strong has long been a standout on Saturday Night Live, but this segment may be her best work yet. Many took to social media to celebrate Strong’s courage and message:

If you’re inspired by Cecily Strong, you can donate to Planned Parenthood Center for Choice, the Texas Equal Access Fund, and other organizations fighting for reproductive justice in Texas.

(image: screencap)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.