Paris Hilton on Her 2003 Abortion & Starting a Family on Her Own Terms

In a new excerpt from her upcoming memoir, the hotel heiress shares the details behind her decision to have an abortion in her early twenties.
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By Wyndi Kappes, Assistant Editor
Updated March 9, 2023
super close up of paris hilton at red carpet event in april 2022
Image: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin | Getty Images

Paris Hilton recently welcomed her first son, Phoenix Barron Hilton, with her husband Carter Reum. But earlier this week, the hotel heiress opened up about how her path to motherhood could have been very different.

In a new excerpt from her upcoming memoir, Paris: The Memoir, Hilton discusses her decision to have an abortion when she was 22. In the excerpt, published in TIME, the socialite describes her early twenties as a “wild-child moment,” in which she was content clubbing most nights, doing red carpet premieres, attending award shows and being hounded by paparazzi. But she explains the wild child life came crashing down when she found out she was pregnant right before the premiere of her hit reality show, “The Simple Life,” in 2003.

“It was like waking up on the ledge outside a 40th-floor window. I was terrified and heartsick. The 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,” Hilton recounted.

The reality TV star explained that while she had the support of her partner Jason Shaw at the time, she knew she wasn’t a place to make a commitment. “It had nothing to do with him or a baby. I just wasn’t capable of being honest or loyal or whole,” Hilton said. “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” Hilton emphasizes that, even then, her decision wasn’t an easy one. “Choosing to have an abortion can be an intensely private agony that’s impossible to explain,” she added.

“The only reason I’m talking about it now is that so many women are facing it, and they feel so alone and judged and abandoned. 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,” Hilton wrote.

Now, almost 20 years later, Hilton remains resolute that her decision was the right one. “We’ve started a family—on our own terms, because we were both ready to be parents,” the new mom said of her relationship with Reum. “That doesn’t mean it was easy,” Hilton said, recounting her fertility struggles and multiple rounds of IVF. “But after two years, we finally welcomed our son, Phoenix Barron Hilton Reum, in January via surrogacy. He is my everything, the child I was always meant to raise.”

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade last summer, Hilton ends her excerpt with a passionate plea for a woman’s right to decide when she will start her own family. “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. We need to know ourselves, trust ourselves, and know what’s right for us—and when—and stay in the driver’s seat,” Hilton wrote.

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