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A Woman Wants To Tell You The 5 Most Surprising Things About Her Abortion

Set aside right or wrong just for a few moments. A woman wants to tell you her story.


I ate lunch alone at my desk before driving to the clinic for our appointment. In the two weeks since my husband and I found out at our 20-week sonogram that our fetus was abnormal, I’d barely left the house. My entire world collapsed. The baby I had loved since before he was conceived was deemed by doctors “incompatible with life.” My husband told me about a senator from Fort Worth who was filibustering HB-2, a series of restrictions on abortions in Texas that includes a ban on abortions after 20 weeks. I clicked on the live stream, afraid of what I’d see — afraid of anything that could make my reality more excruciating than it already was. Instead, I saw a "Legally Blonde"-esque powerhouse in pink sneakers and listened to her describe my exact situation. Seeing her stand there, so professional and composed as she spoke about what I was facing, was the single most consoling act I could have experienced in that moment.

The day after the abortion, I made a statement to my husband that would change my life even further: “I’m going to share our story.” Before having an abnormal fetus, I might not have understood why a woman would want or need to have an abortion after 20 weeks. It sounded lazy, careless, and selfish to me. But once I knew from traumatic personal experience that there can be loving reasons for a late-term abortion, I felt I couldn’t stay silent. I realized that if I had heard more people talking about this side of the issue before I went through it myself, I might have felt less alone — and I might have felt less humiliated to think that others might think me lazy, careless, or selfish, when the truth was that I wanted my baby more than anything. Like Senator Davis, who stood for me and all women, I decided to let people know how important it is to protect a woman’s right to choose. I started with a speech for TEDxSMU last October and then told my story for "Oral Fixation" — and I haven’t stopped.

After taking a deep breath and putting my truth out into the world, I was inundated with loving support. Friends have confided that they’ve had abortions, and now we are closer because I know something about them that hardly anyone else knows. Strangers who’ve read my story have reached out and thanked me for sharing. I’m developing friendships with a couple of women who’ve also gone through terminations due to fetal abnormalities. And then there’s the immediate reaction when I speak in public — men shaking my hand, thanking me for being brave enough to shed light on an issue they’ve struggled to understand; women hugging me, saying it’s a miracle I could talk about such pain in public when they’ve lived quietly with their own pain for years. Even the woman whose story Wendy Davis was telling when I clicked on the live stream reached out to me in solidarity. My story has brought awareness to the plight of so many who previously suffered in silence. And together we feel stronger and less isolated.

Every month, my husband and I co-produce a live storytelling series in Dallas called "Oral Fixation (An Obsession With True Life Tales)" that features regular folks reading aloud their true, personal stories on a theme. In the past, when I ran across a really tough or divisive issue, I’d detour around it, afraid to alienate my audience. But now, I am bolder. For example, our March show, “Elephant in the Room,” included the story of a man who at 14 years old narrowly avoided molestation and another of a suicide attempt due to childhood sexual abuse. I’ve worked with members of my community to share their stories of racism and dealing with disability. Perhaps because I’ve been so grateful not only for the positive response and support but also the healing I’ve experienced since sharing my story, I’m now fearless about talking about tough stuff. In fact, I've begun to understand that it is silence, far more than honesty, that we should fear. It is my greatest reward to witness the catharsis of sharing something long held inside and how it heals both the individual and the community who hears the story.

My husband and I had been married only four months when we conceived our baby, intentionally and with incredible joy. When we learned about the baby’s problems, we were on the same page instantly: We didn’t want to bring a child into this world to suffer. But we didn’t give up easily. We felt we owed it to the baby to find out as much as we could about his condition before making a decision about his life. My husband stood by my side, putting aside all professional obligations to be there at every sonogram and every test, and then he spent hours in the abortion clinic’s waiting room while I underwent three days of procedures. By the end, I felt for the first time that I trusted another human being with my life. The following months were heavy with crazy menstrual cycles, epic crying fits on the bathroom floor, and so much sadness for what could have been. It hasn’t been perfect, but over time we are learning how to be there for each other in our grief. We know now that our love can overcome any obstacle, and rather than feel like victims, we rejoice daily in our many blessings, such as the ability to try to get pregnant again. We help each other hold the belief that we did the best thing for our baby and that we will be parents someday. And every time we learn of a family or individual who has benefited from hearing our story, we feel our love for our lost soul deepen with the knowledge that he has left an incredible legacy.

Editor's Note: Like the idea of people sharing their experiences instead of getting caught up in the "wrong or right," "should or shouldn't" debate? Us too. Please consider sharing this if you think this approach is good for the world.

Images courtesy of Letters of Love
True

When Grace Berbig was 7 years old, her mom was diagnosed with leukemia, a cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues. Being so young, Grace didn’t know what cancer was or why her mother was suddenly living in the hospital. But she did know this: that while her mom was in the hospital, she would always be assured that her family was thinking of her, supporting her and loving her every step of her journey.

Nearly every day, Grace and her two younger sisters would hand-make cards and fill them with drawings and messages of love, which their mother would hang all over the walls of her hospital room. These cherished letters brought immeasurable peace and joy to their mom during her sickness. Sadly, when Grace was just 10 years old, her mother lost her battle with cancer.“

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Losing my mom put the world in a completely different perspective for me,” Grace says. “I realized that you never know when someone could leave you, so you have to love the people you love with your whole heart, every day.”

Grace’s father was instrumental in helping in the healing process of his daughters. “I distinctly remember my dad constantly reminding my two little sisters, Bella and Sophie, and I that happiness is a choice, and it was now our job to turn this heartbreaking event in our life into something positive.”

When she got to high school, Grace became involved in the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and a handful of other organizations. But she never felt like she was doing enough.

“I wanted to create an opportunity for people to help beyond donating money, and one that anyone could be a part of, no matter their financial status.”

In October 2018, Grace started Letters of Love, a club at her high school in Long Lake, Minnesota, to emotionally support children battling cancer and other serious illnesses through letter-writing and craft-making.


Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Much to her surprise, more than 100 students showed up for the first club meeting. From then on, Letters of Love grew so fast that during her senior year in high school, Grace had to start a GoFundMe to help cover the cost of card-making materials.

Speaking about her nonprofit today, Grace says, “I can’t find enough words to explain how blessed I feel to have this organization. Beyond the amount of kids and families we are able to support, it allows me to feel so much closer and more connected to my mom.”

Since its inception, Letters of Love has grown to more than 25 clubs with more than 1,000 members providing emotional support to more than 60,000 patients in children’s hospitals around the world. And in the process it has become a full-time job for Grace.

“I do everything from training volunteers and club ambassadors, paying bills, designing merchandise, preparing financial predictions and overviews, applying for grants, to going through each and every card ensuring they are appropriate to send out to hospitals.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

In addition to running Letters of Love, Grace and her small team must also contend with the emotions inherent in their line of work.

“There have been many, many tears cried,” she says. “Working to support children who are battling cancer and other serious and sometimes chronic illnesses can absolutely be extremely difficult mentally. I feel so blessed to be an organization that focuses solely on bringing joy to these children, though. We do everything we can to simply put a smile on their face, and ensure they know that they are so loved, so strong, and so supported by people all around the world.”

Image courtesy of Letters of Love

Letters of Love has been particularly instrumental in offering emotional support to children who have been unable to see friends and family due to COVID-19. A video campaign in the summer of 2021 even saw members of the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the NHL’s Minnesota Wild offer short videos of hope and encouragement to affected children.

Grace is currently taking a gap year before she starts college so she can focus on growing Letters of Love as well as to work on various related projects, including the publication of a children’s book.

“The goal of the book is to teach children the immense impact that small acts of kindness can have, how to treat their peers who may be diagnosed with disabilities or illness, and how they are never too young to change the world,” she says.

Since she was 10, Grace has kept memories of her mother close to her, as a source of love and inspiration in her life and in the work she does with Letters of Love.

Image courtesy of Grace Berbig

“When I lost my mom, I felt like a section of my heart went with her, so ever since, I have been filling that piece with love and compassion towards others. Her smile and joy were infectious, and I try to mirror that in myself and touch people’s hearts as she did.”

For more information visit Letters of Love.

Please donate to Grace’s GoFundMe and help Letters of Love to expand, publish a children’s book and continue to reach more children in hospitals around the world.

This article originally appeared on November 5, 2013


When I saw these incredible photos Angelo Merendino took of his wife, Jennifer, as she battled breast cancer, I felt that I shouldn't be seeing this snapshot of their intimate, private lives.





















The photos humanize the face of cancer and capture the difficulty, fear, and pain that they experienced during the difficult time.

But as Angelo commented: "These photographs do not define us, but they are us."

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Images courtesy of AFutureSuperhero and Friends and Balance Dance Project
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The day was scorching hot, but the weather wasn’t going to stop a Star Wars Stormtrooper from handing out school supplies to a long line of eager children. “You guys don’t have anything illegal back there - any droids or anything?” the Stormtrooper asks, making sure he was safe from enemies before handing over a colorful backpack to a smiling boy.

The man inside the costume is Yuri Williams, founder of AFutureSuperhero And Friends, a Los Angeles nonprofit that uplifts and inspires marginalized people with small acts of kindness.

Yuri’s organization is one of four inaugural grant winners from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, a joint initiative between Upworthy and GoFundMe that celebrates kindness and everyday actions inspired by the best of humanity. This year, the Upworthy Kindness Fund is giving $100,000 to grassroots changemakers across the world.

To apply, campaign organizers simply tell Upworthy how their kindness project is making a difference. Between now and the end of 2021, each accepted individual or organization will receive $500 towards an existing GoFundMe and a shout-out on Upworthy.

Meet the first four winners:

1: Balance Dance Project: This studio aims to bring accessible dance to all in the Sacramento, CA area. Lead fundraiser Miranda Macias says many dancers spend hours a day at Balance practicing contemporary, lyrical, hip-hop, and ballet. Balance started a GoFundMe to raise money to cover tuition for dancers from low-income communities, buy dance team uniforms, and update its facility. The $500 contribution from the Kindness Fund nudged Balance closer to its $5,000 goal.

2: Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team: In Los Angeles, middle school teacher James Pike is introducing his students to the field of robotics via a Lego-building team dedicated to solving real-world problems.

James started a GoFundMe to crowdfund supplies for his students’ team ahead of the First Lego League, a school-against-school matchup that includes robotics competitions. The team, James explained, needed help to cover half the cost of the pricey $4,000 robotics kit. Thanks to help from the Upworthy Kindness Fund and the generosity of the Citizens of the World Middle School community, the team exceeded its initial fundraising goal.

Citizens of the World Mar Vista Robotics Team video update youtu.be

3: Black Fluidity Tattoo Club: Kiara Mills and Tann Parker want to fix a big problem in the tattoo industry: there are too few Black tattoo artists. To tackle the issue, the duo founded the Black Fluidity Tattoo Club to inspire and support Black tattooers. While the Brooklyn organization is open to any Black person, Kiara and Tann specifically want to encourage dark-skinned artists to train in an affirming space among people with similar identities.

To make room for newcomers, the club recently moved into a larger studio with a third station for apprentices or guest artists. Unlike a traditional fundraiser that supports the organization exclusively, Black Fluidity Tattoo Club will distribute proceeds from GoFundMe directly to emerging Black tattoo artists who are starting their own businesses. The small grants, supported in part with a $500 contribution from the Upworthy Kindness Fund, will go towards artists’ equipment, supplies, furnishings, and other start-up costs.

4: AFutureSuperhero And Friends’ “Hope For The Holidays”: Founder Yuri Williams is fundraising for a holiday trip to spread cheer to people in need across all fifty states.

Along with collaborator Rodney Smith Jr., Yuri will be handing out gifts to children, adults, and animals dressed as a Star Wars’ Stormtrooper, Spiderman, Deadpool, and other movie or comic book characters. Starting this month, the crew will be visiting children with disabilities or serious illnesses, bringing leashes and toys to animal shelters for people taking home a new pet, and spreading blessings to unhoused people—all while in superhero costume. This will be the third time Yuri and his nonprofit have taken this journey.

AFutureSuperhero started a GoFundMe in July to cover the cost of gifts as well as travel expenses like hotels and rental cars. To help the nonprofit reach its $15,000 goal, the Upworthy Kindness Fund contributed $500 towards this good cause.

Think you qualify for the fund? Tell us how you’re bringing kindness to your community. Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis from now through the end of 2021. For questions and more information, please check out our FAQ's and the Kindness Toolkit for resources on how to start your own kindness fundraiser.

A group of around 20 moms gathered at a Boston area high school to vent their frustrations loudly.

The pandemic has been hard on everyone, but there are certain groups of people who have faced particularly intense challenges these past two years. Healthcare workers? For sure. Teachers? Definitely. Parents? Um, yes.

Moms specifically? Yesssss.

It's hard to describe how hard navigating the pandemic with kids has been. Figuring out childcare when schools and daycare centers shut down, managing kids' remote or hybrid schooling, constantly making decisions about what's safe and what's not, dealing with the inconsistency and chaos of it all, weighing risks with who is vaccinated and who isn't—none of it has been easy. Many parents are also raising kids with mental, emotional, behavioral or physical challenges that have only been made harder by pandemic life.

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Peter Dinklage in 2013.

Disney has taken another step toward diversifying its iconic princesses by casting Rachel Zegler to play Snow White in its upcoming live-action version of the Grimms’ fairy tale. Zegler’s mother is of Colombian descent and her father has Polish roots. The 20-year-old actress recently wowed audiences in Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.”

Disney has also announced that Halle Bailey, a Black actress, will play Ariel in its upcoming live-action version of “The Little Mermaid.”

Disney’s big push toward inclusivity in the casting of its princesses is definitely a welcome move, but according to actor Peter Dinklage, the Mouse may be missing the forest for the trees.

Dinklage, who was born with a form of dwarfism named achondroplasia, criticized Disney on the “WTF with Marc Maron” podcast for being hypocritical for focusing on race while completely missing the ball when it comes to people with disabilities.

"There's a lot of hypocrisy going on, I've gotta say, from being somebody who's a little bit unique," Dinklage told Maron.

"Really? Like what?" Maron asked. "What do you see?"


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