SANTA MARIA, California, March 1, 2011 ( – Several decades after an abortion left Jane Russell unable to bear children and spurred her to become an outspoken pro-lifer and adoption advocate, the silver screen beauty died yesterday at the age of 89. In lieu of flowers, the family of the born-again Christian actress is asking for donations in her honor to Care Net, a pro-life pregnancy resource center network.


Jane Russell, the brunette bombshell of the films The Tall Men and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, whose image became a popular pinup for World War II servicemen, passed away of respiratory failure at her Santa Maria home Monday.

Leading a wild lifestyle early on, Russell later became, in her words, “a teetotal, mean-spirited, right-wing, narrow-minded, conservative Christian bigot” – but not before an illegal abortion caused her to lose her fertility.

The experience, which she says nearly killed her, led her to become outspoken about abortion, denying that any circumstance – rape or incest included – justified taking the life of an unborn child.

“People should never, ever have an abortion. Don’t talk to me about it being a woman’s right to choose what she does with her own body. The choice is between life and death,” Russell declared in one quotation widely attributed to her.

In another quotation cited by, Russell said that when she found herself pregnant at 18, “The only solution was to find a quack and get an abortion. I had a botched abortion and it was terrible. Afterwards my own doctor said, ‘What butcher did this to you?’ I had to be taken to hospital. I was so ill I nearly died. I’ve never known pain like it.”

Even decades after the procedure was made legal in America, loss of fertility remains a common side effect of abortions: post-abortive women telling their stories through Silent No More Awareness frequently testify to losing the ability to bear children as a consequence of their abortions.

Her struggle conceiving led Russell to adopt three children and to found the World Adoption International Fund in 1955. She also started the ‘Hollywood Christian Group,’ a weekly Bible study she hosted at her house for Christians in the film industry. Russell, who divorced once and was married two more times, is survived by her three children, six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

After confirming her death on Monday, her family suggested that donations be made in her name to Care Net Pregnancy & Resource Center at 121 W. Battles, Santa Maria, CA, as well as CASA of Santa Barbara County, a group that helps abused children find a court advocate.

Care Net, which oversees a nationwide network of 1,100 pregnancy centers, specializes in helping women facing unplanned pregnancies by providing practical help as well as emotional support.