Ashley Judd is ''very thankful'' she was able to have a ''safe and legal abortion'' after she was raped.

The 50-year-old actress has spoken out in defence of abortions at the Women in the World summit in New York on Thursday (11.04.19), following a new bill in the US state of Georgia that would ban abortion as soon as a heartbeat can be heard.

Ashley says safe abortions are incredibly important, as without one, a man who she claims raped her would have had paternity rights to her child, and she would have had to ''co-parent with [her] rapist''.

She explained at the summit: ''As everyone knows, and I'm very open about it, I'm a three-time rape survivor. And one of the times I was raped, there was conception. And I'm very thankful I was able to access safe and legal abortion. Because the rapist, who is a Kentuckian, as am I, and I reside in Tennessee, has paternity rights in Kentucky and Tennessee. I would've had to co-parent with my rapist.

''So having safe access to abortion was personally important to me and, as I said earlier, democracy starts with our skin. We're not supposed to regulate what we choose to do with our insides.''

In March, the 'Double Jeopardy' actress added her name to a letter shared by Alyssa Milano that protested the Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act, which the Georgia Senate recently passed.

Ashley has previously spoken about her experiences with sexual assault and harassment, including being one of the first women to accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct.

The 'Divergent' star encouraged fellow assault survivors last year with a moving speech in which she claimed ''healing is our birthright''.

She said: We can heal, that has been my experience.

''Healing is our birthright. It was not our birthright to be sexually harassed or assaulted or raped ... (but) it is our birthright to know in our bones that it wasn't our fault. We humans hurt each other and sometimes we hurt ourselves, but we can make decisions and take actions that free us.''