has no shortage of shocking storylines and scenes, but Madeline Brewer says exploring her character Janine’s abortion allowed her to grieve her own.
Over the past five seasons of the dystopian drama, Brewer has played handmaid Janine, a close friend of June (Elisabeth Moss) who has also been while acting as reproductive slaves.
But it was a story about Janine that hit home for the actress.
In the episode, titled Milk, a flashback tells of how in life pre-Gilead, Janine was a single mother seeking an abortion after an unplanned pregnancy.
But upon searching for resources online, she found herself at an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centre, which manipulated women into keeping their unwanted pregnancies due to the dropping fertility rate.
She eventually fought back against the propaganda and sought out a safe abortion, which Madeline said allowed her to reflect on her own experience seeking a termination.
‘When I filmed Janine’s scenes where she was getting an abortion and being manipulated by these crisis pregnancy centers, Roe v. Wade was still intact,’ she
‘But having that storyline was actually a really incredible grieving process for me for my own abortion that I spoke about online in June after the overturn of Roe.
‘People talk about how much they love Janine and how much Janine has inspired them, and it felt important to me to talk about my own experience.’
She also added how significant it was to see abortion being represented onscreen in a way that showed a woman making her own choice, something she did not see when she was younger.
‘There are thousands upon thousands of reasons why even one individual would decide it’s not right for them. And for me, it was the very singular fact that I was not ready,’ she said.
Shortly after Roe v. Wade was overturned in June of this year, Madeline revealed on social media that she had an abortion when she was 20.
Following the candid post, where she wrote that ‘today my life is mine’ and that she ‘can’t wait to be a mother on my own terms’, she later shared that she had decided to share her story following the ‘fear and anger’ over the Supreme Court’s decision.
‘I wanted anyone who saw it to know that I understand how important it is to have abortion as an option because I’ve needed it myself,’ she said.
Madeline is currently starring in Cabaret on the West End and said that project also tackled the difficulties of deciding to have an abortion.
‘Every single night I play a woman who goes through the feelings of getting pregnant, wanting to keep it, deciding not to keep it, because of the life that she wants for herself.’
The Handmaid’s Tale is streaming on Channel 4.
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