Reiner, best known for her role as Natalie “Fig” Figueroa on “ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK,” openly shares that her mother had an abortion in Mexico and almost died. At the time, abortion was illegal in the U.S. and her mother only had the opportunity to get an abortion south of the border because she was white, privileged, and had some wealth.
“All through my childhood, we would we would go to marches — really similar to the celebration we had for Roe v Wade’s 49th anniversary — to celebrate this right, but also to make sure that it stayed intact. And so that’s always been a piece of advocacy in my life.”
These days, Reiner works with many organizations including Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights. She’s sung with her chorus, Resistance Revival Chorus at many protests, noting, “joy is an act of resistance.” She’s also on the board of The Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
Additionally, Reiner is involved with The Meteor, a non-profit that’s working to advance gender justice. She’s changed her language to be more inclusive. For example, she’s focused not just on reproductive rights, but on reproductive justice — where reproductive rights and social justice meet. Reiner says racial disparities are due to systematic racism. She explains, “Black women die three to four times as often as white women of pregnancy causes, and that’s not
just giving birth. What’s heartbreaking is how many times that’s after a woman gives birth.”
Reiner produced and starred in the feature film “Egg,” a dramedy about motherhood and why women deserve to make their own choices when it comes to becoming a mother, including the choice not to become a mother.
When she was considering becoming a mother, Reiner — who had dealt with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder — contemplated if she was ready for the responsibility.
“’Was I mentally fit?’ that was the biggest question for me,” she says. “Had I dealt with my stuff enough that I felt I could be the best parent I could be?”
Reiner was ready. She and her husband, actor and producer David Alan Basche, are raising their 13-year-old daughter to learn about the women’s reproductive rights issues too.
Since her daughter was small, Reiner has had conversations with the now teen about agency, ownership and dignity. She encourages other parents to start those conversations early too.
Agency, ownership and dignity
One of Reiner’s favorite quotes is from fellow activist, Gloria Steinem: “Without the power to make decisions about our own bodies, there is no democracy.”
She wants all women to celebrate and be proud of their bodies.
“Every human deserves the right over their own body,” she says. “The right of agency and ownership and dignity with their own body.”
She says it’s crucial that women know their options, especially regarding abortion.
“I hope this helps women who may be feeling alone, and may not be able to talk to their parents and not be able to talk to someone in their lives,” she says. “Please know that women all over the country are fighting for their rights and are there to support them.”
She advises women of all ages to learn about their bodies and be in-the-know about healthcare and legislation impacting women’s health.
“Educate yourself, educate yourself, educate yourself,” she says. “And share your information with your loved ones, friends and family.”