Paris Hilton is opening up about her decision to have an abortion two decades ago. In her new memoir, the entrepreneur writes how she learned she was pregnant in November 2003 after the first season of The Simple Life wrapped.
"I was living my best life," Hilton recalls in Paris: The Memoir. "I was having a wild-child moment, and it was sort of glorious."
"It all came crashing down when I realized I was pregnant at 22. It was like waking up on the ledge outside a 40th-floor window. I was terrified and heartsick," she continues, noting how pregnancy hormones "sent my ADHD symptoms spiraling. Everything I knew about myself was at war with everything I'd been raised to believe about abortion. No one can ever know how hard it is to face this impossible choice unless she's faced it herself."
The heiress had been dating Tommy Hilfiger model Jason Shaw for two years. Although they were in love, she knew she could not make the kind of commitment starting a family entailed.
"It had nothing to do with him or a baby. I just wasn't capable of being honest or loyal or whole. After suffering abuse at Provo Canyon School and three other programs within the 'troubled teen' industry network, I was damaged in ways I couldn't tell him about, and the fact that I never confided in him about my past — that says it all, doesn't it? Secrets are corrosive," she shares. "They destroy anything you try to layer over them."
Hilton says making the choice to have an abortion was an "intensely private agony that's impossible to explain." She's choosing to talk about it now because she knows other women are in similar situations.
"I want them to know that they're not alone, and they don't owe anyone an explanation. When there is no right way — all that's left is what is. What you know you have to do. And you do it, even though it breaks your heart," she says.
Although Hilton knows she made the right choice, she still looks "back on all this with sorrow."
"In my loneliest moments, I've romanticized that time in my life and tortured myself with melodrama—thoughts like, What if I killed my Paris? — but the fact is, there was no happy little family at stake. That was not going to happen. Trying to continue that pregnancy with the physical and emotional issues I was dealing with at the time would have been a train wreck for everyone involved," she continues. "At that moment, I was in no way capable of being a mother. Denying that would have jeopardized the forever family I hoped to have in the future, at a time when I was healthy and healed."
Earlier this year, Hilton welcomed her first child — son Phoenix Barron Hilton Reum — with husband, Carter Reum, via a surrogate.
"He is my everything, the child I was always meant to raise," Hilton says.
"I know I wouldn't have this life if I hadn’t made that difficult choice in my early 20s. Women need to control their reproductive destiny," she concludes. "We need to know ourselves, trust ourselves, and know what's right for us — and when — and stay in the driver's seat."
If you or someone you know needs help obtaining an abortion or additional information and resources, visit abortionfunds.org or abortionfinder.org. You can also call or text the All Options hotline at 1-888-493-0092, which offers “unconditional, judgment-free support for people in all of their decisions, feelings and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption."