TLC’s Chilli speaks about abortion, choice

Rozonda Thomas, known to most of us as TLC’s Chilli, has a show on VH1 in which she lets us in on a lot of her most intimate and personal thoughts. See, Chilli’s trying to find a man – a soul mate – and she’s tossed her hat into the reality television ring to do it. According to the show’s site, “‘What Chilli Wants’ features ‘Chilli’ from pop supergroup TLC, as she has decides to take the reins of her romantic situation and launch an all out search for the love of her life.” Having been in the spotlight for so long what with TLC’s fame, her relationship with Usher and now this show, it’s not really a surprise that Chilli decided to open up even further about her life and loves. This clip from What Chilli Wants shows Chilli talking about her first real relationship – to producer Dallas Austin. She reveals that she became pregnant early on in her career and says outside pressure, particularly from Austin, was to blame. Watch:

I definitely feel for Chilli. No one should have their reproductive choice stripped away; not by family, friends, or an intimate partner. It’s terrible that Chilli didn’t feel empowered and didn’t feel supported enough to make the decision she says she always wanted – to proceed with the pregnancy.

In the clip, Chilli says having an abortion was one of the “biggest mistakes” of her life. She said it “broke her spirit” and she didn’t want to do it. She cites her relatively young age at the time (20), her burgeoning career with top-selling girl group TLC, and lack of support as reasons for choosing to abort. There are so many women in similar situations, women who feel like they have no other option so they must abort. Reasons run the gamut from lack of emotional support and financial means to fear of abuse and isolation. These and other factors could lead to a woman making the decision to terminate an otherwise wanted pregnancy.

To me, this brings home the importance of contraception and sexual education. Chilli was 20 and on her way to becoming famous. TLC made a splash on the scene hyping up safe sex, colorful condoms and a new brand of “girl power.” The group’s biggest song ever was “Waterfalls”, warning against the dangers of unprotected sex. One would think, then, that Chilli could have taken control and responsibility for her sexual choices to prevent having to make such a difficult decision in the first place. This is not to place blame on Chilli for the resultant circumstances; this is just to say that birth control and sexual education need to be mainstream and routine facets of our health care.

While there are women who regret having an abortion and deal with the ramifications of their decision down the road, there are also women who are quite alright with the fact that they made a choice for themselves and their families. To be sure, the decision is a serious one that is not taken lightly, but one can be secure in the fact that she made the best, informed choice without guilt or shame. There are organizations that allow you to express whatever feelings you have about your abortion like Exhale whose mission statement says:

Exhale creates a social climate where each person’s unique experience with abortion is supported, respected and free from stigma. Exhale provides services, training and education to empower individuals, families and communities to achieve post-abortion health and well-being.

Today,  Chilli has a 13 year-old son named Tron by Dallas Austin. She said she felt that she had to have a baby with him, to make up for the one they didn’t have. Tron is her blessing, I’m sure, but I wish she could have had the baby she wanted because she WANTED to,  not out of regret, guilt, or shame.

Chilli says of Dallas Austin, “he was always being true to himself. I was not. I was compromising myself as a person to please [him]. “My message to others out there is be true to yourself, take care of yourself and protect yourself so that you can fulfill your dreams with as few regrets as possible.