Winfrey: Losing baby as a teen was 'my second chance'
January 17th, 2011
09:18 PM ET

Winfrey: Losing baby as a teen was 'my second chance'

In the inaugural interview on "Piers Morgan Tonight," talk show queen Oprah Winfrey recalled contemplating suicide at 14 because she was pregnant, and how she feels she was given a second chance when she lost the baby.

"I thought, 'Before the baby was born, I’m going to have to kill myself,' " she told Piers Morgan during the interview, which aired on CNN Monday night, citing the stigma of being an unwed mother at the time, and her father's view of unwed mothers.

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Her mother in Milwaukee sent her to live with her father in Nashville, and he didn't know she was pregnant.

"My father ... said to me as I'm standing in the kitchen listening to him, 'These are the rules of the house, you're going to obey the rules, you have a 10 o'clock curfew, and I would rather see a daughter of mine floating down the Cumberland River … than to bring shame on this family and the indecency of an illegitimate child.' "

She said she didn't come close to killing herself - "I did stupid things like drinking detergent and all that kind of crazy stuff that you do when you’re trying to get attention when you’re really just trying to cry for help," she said.

"But this is my 14-year-old self. I don't even know what I thought the plan was going to be. ... You're having a baby out of wedlock, your life is over. So when the baby died – the baby was never brought home from the hospital – when the baby died, I knew that it was my second chance.

"So I went back to school, and nobody knew. Because had anybody known at that time, I wouldn’t have been able to be head of student council. I wouldn’t have been able to be speaking champion in forensics. … I wouldn’t have been chosen as one of the two teenagers in the state of Tennessee to go to the White House conference on youth. None of those things would have happened, and the entire trajectory of my life would have been different."

She discussed the baby and the suicidal thoughts after being asked whether any part of her wondered what would have happened if the child had lived.

Winfrey also discussed how her heart was broken twice, why she is not one for marriage, what she intends for her fortune when she's gone, and how she wishes everyone would have a Gayle King in their life.

Morgan's show takes over CNN's 9 p.m. ET time slot from longtime CNN host Larry King. The show's first week continues with Howard Stern on Tuesday and former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday.

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soundoff (393 Responses)
  1. Shay

    Im upset that Oprah called her flesh and blood "the baby" instead of "my child" or "my baby" as if she has detached her self from her son or daughter that would be 40 years old now? It's almost like I won the BILLION DOLLAR LOTTERY! because my adult child DIED as a baby! I like Oprah but this is a unatural comment and Gail..better sit down with her friend and KEEP IT REAL! because Gail is intouch with human babies..she has 2 of them! OPRAH I will pray for your son or the the BIBLE! your baby hasn't been forgoting if you DONT repent to the TRUE God of HEAVEN,u MAY never be able to show love and apologize to YOUR BABY again..You are stupid rich but are you stupid humble to find the true God and submit? ~I lost 3 babies so I got emotional people,but just as Jesus resurrected Lazarus here on earth,I have hope my lil one along with many others have the ransom promise to be forgiven and resurrected~

    January 17, 2011 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • pbs

      well, she is being candid in saying that her life would have definitely been different if she did have the child. Am sure if the child had lived, she would have done right by it.

      January 17, 2011 at 10:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • me


      January 17, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mizz.Givens

      She was 14. While she understands now that it's a big deal, she is talking about how she felt at 14. Imagine being that young, very scared, suicidal, and helpless. The fact that the baby died changed her life. Do you want her to dissolve in a puddle of emotion? She's not in that space right now.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimB

      yes it's disturbing, but i suspect it's her subconscious way of protecting herself. Often people inadvertently become cold to the thing they love most in order to save their psychology. It's not intentional, it's one of those subconscious mechanisms. (Now we'll see how many self-righteous morons start saying what a terrible thing that is and that we all make choices, etc. ad nauseum.)

      January 18, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Tod

    She's so brilliant and so honest. A woman of towering intellect and integrity. She went from being the lowest of the low to the highest of the high. She inspires me every single day.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Becky

      Get a life. Oprah is not a god to be worshipped.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • JimB

      no, becky, she's not a god, but she is a very inspirational figure. If you don't like her fine, but don't spew your venom around–it makes you look rather small.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:10 am | Report abuse |
  3. tcaros

    She's a big fake.
    She's a lesbian who hid behind "steadman" so she could openly bash men for 20 years.
    She's full of bs about her childhood... its an act for attention.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mizz.Givens

      I don't hear her man bash, and if she was a lesbian, imagine the kinds of women she'd have access to! Get real ... she is who she says she is.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |

    Oh, Do U Hear You! Don't HATE The Game Makes For Good TV. Listen at YOU! Oprah Doesn't Care What YOU Think...DUH...

    January 17, 2011 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Flying Spaghetti Monster

    an organism that lives on or in an organism of another species, known as the host, from the body of which it obtains nutriment.
    a person who receives support, advantage, or the like, from another or others without giving any useful or proper return, as one who lives on the hospitality of others.

    Fetus = Parasite.

    Killing a parasite isn't murder.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • NotSo

      1. "...of another species..." A fetus is a member of the same species as his/her mother.

      2. "...a person who receives support ...without giving any useful or proper return..." Fetuses often improve the health of their mothers. Many pregnant women develop an aversion to chemicals, a craving for healthy foods, and an intense, protective love that leads them to discontinue reckless behaviors and expend energy on the creation of a loving home atmosphere. Once the babies are born, their parents often sustain healthier habits and happier relationships for life.

      Based on your definitions, a fetus is not a parasite – but most people instinctively know that.

      January 18, 2011 at 1:17 am | Report abuse |
    • brent

      The worst atheist is a stupid atheist.

      If you were so 'enlightened' you would understand the difference between an external parasite vs the direct mechanism a placental species uses to perpetuate itself and reproduce.

      A human fetus is not in any way a parasite, you imbecile.

      January 18, 2011 at 1:18 am | Report abuse |
    • 3for1

      Are you saying that ALL fetuses are parasites and therefore be gotten rid of??!! The human race would die out then idiot. Mmmm what if your own mother shared your views. I guess you wouldn't be here to write your idiotic comment now would you.

      January 28, 2011 at 9:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. me

    I like the fact that she shared her story. No one said you had to agree with how she handled it. She was 14 years old. We all think we would do something different, but in the end we only think about our selves. If that is not the case then why is it so easy now to end a pregnancy, or for a dad to walk away. If this is not enough fact for you then look at how many moms/woman have had an abortion and how many dads leave. Pretty much the same thing. If I am wrong then why are thre so many single moms out hre and so many abortion clinics open.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Becky

      Interesting. She WAS 14 and "the baby died ... didn't even leave the hospital." no adult was called in? No parent had to pay the expenses? She doesn't say this was an abortion. She calls it a death. There are pieces missing in this poor-me story of Oprah's.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      So did you also like the fact that Palin's kid had a kid at SEVENTEEN, not FOURTEEN? Or was that bad because she is conservative?

      January 18, 2011 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
    • seanmom

      Because the world is full of wickedness, and there is nothing (including murdering an innocent unborn child) that is beyond human selfishness. Thank God Jesus loves all and can forgive all who repent of such sin. Unfortunately, Oprah clearly has not repented.

      January 18, 2011 at 1:25 am | Report abuse |
  7. b cool

    I thought it was a great interview. Oprah is such a wonderful, giving person. I love her new network and I think I will follow her on twitter. I thought that she led the interview at times and that Piers backed off because of her great power, his lack of experience or similar Larry King interviewing techinques.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Lisa

    Great Show. Piers and Oprah are amazing and I can't wait to hear Piers insight into the Royal Wedding. Thank you!!! and Good Luck!!!!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Todd Lewis

    Didn't watch, cuz I hope it flops.
    CNN marketing overkill!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cinnamon

    Hey anyone. Please don't insult to special Oprah. Ok. Cuz I already met her at chicago since 1991 with Marlene Martlee (yea) I told ya truth. Cuz it no prefect anyone don't do ya're ? Mm..I know Oprah is stay stand be strong her own decide and forgiven and keep her silent and faith too. Cuz god witness his know about her life. Amen. I do unds her support been past then time is future. No need worry about her negtive her life and about you each other too. I proud her became succses her good life. Amen~ as honor Martin Luther King Jr is Free United Stand American. Peace.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • anonymous

      uhh... WHAT? look i'm not trying to be mean... but your english is so terrible i'm not even sure why you're bothering to post. all i really got from it is that you're pro-Oprah. i'm sure i'm not the only one who read that and had no idea what you were trying to say...

      January 17, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • natty


      January 17, 2011 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • natty

      I didn't even get that she was pro Oprah from that. I couldn't understand more than one word at a time and that was tough.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • StopTheWhining

      In order to correctly translate this either 1. Know Ebonics


      2. Read the paragraph aloud in a southern plantation Mammy voice.

      Seriously... Try it... It works!

      January 18, 2011 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
    • NotSo

      I'm glad you've got a nice memory of meeting Oprah, but seriously – unless you spoke English twenty years ago better than you write it now, there's no way that you understood enough in your conversation with her to have any idea of what she's like.

      January 18, 2011 at 1:22 am | Report abuse |
  11. Uncommon blogger

    And of course, guys understand what it means to be pregnant at 14 and in her shoes! Always makes me laugh when these guys without any clues want to express their opnion on something they cant relate to. No better then old white haired men in robes determining or men who want to reverse roe vs. roe or make a determination as to what's good for a woman!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Haha. hilarious.."roe versus roe" Get a clue then come back and bash us old white haired men will ya? We are the other half of the baby equation wether you like it or not.

      January 17, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jones

      Can't relate to that? Let's be honest here, the men are actually the ones who have no choice, especially in this day and age. If the father wants the child and the mother doesn't, its dead. If the mother wants it and the father doesn't, it lives and he pays support for it. Sure, having to carry it around for nine months and go through childbirth gives the women the short end of the stick, but lets not pretend that the men have no ability to understand the life changing consequences involved. In fact, I think some men understand them quite well, and that's why some run away. Others don't, however. And now all we've done is make it so the women can run away too. That's progress.

      January 18, 2011 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
    • jack

      Yeah....don't you mean Roe Vs Wade you ignorant F%@^% excuse for a human being??????????????????

      January 18, 2011 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
  12. soSad

    So, Oprah, no matter how the girls get pregnant today, your message to them was simple. If the baby dies you're better off. Thank you so much. I've never much cared for you, but that made me realize you are nothing more than a murderer in your heart. You, or your baby. Sad sad sad. And you pretend to care about our youth.

    January 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • noduh...

      of course they are better off if the baby dies. thats just common sense.

      What, are we supposed to pretend that a baby at that age is just a burden?

      January 18, 2011 at 12:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. chris

    Attention, Anyone who has watched Oprah, a loser!!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kathleen

    A very interesting, probing interview. Congratulations to Piers!

    January 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ingrid

    I never knew about this...

    January 17, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Report abuse |
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