Amy Brenneman opens up about the abortion she had when she was 21.

'The Leftovers' actress joined several other women in filing a briefing with the Supreme Court.

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing what's been called the most significant abortion case in more than two decades.

It's a case that will determine whether or not states can enact strict abortion laws aimed at shutting down clinics, and it's a case that may have far-reaching consequences for the future of reproductive rights in America.

It's called Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, and it tackles the constitutionality of Texas' HB2 anti-abortion law.


Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.

Ahead of the case, a number of women shared their stories with both the court and with the world. Among them was actress Amy Brenneman.

During her junior year of college, Brenneman had an abortion. Until now, she'd never publicly shared the story but only because it was so uneventful.

Photo by Alexandra Wyman/Getty Images.

Here she writes for Cosmopolitan:

"My abortion story is absolutely uneventful. It has left no scars. But in this current political climate, one in which a woman who makes the responsible choice of not bringing an unwanted child into this world is forced to drive 500 miles or is violently harassed on her way to the clinic door or is pushed to take matters into her own hands, this uneventful-ness seems downright miraculous. May it always be so uneventful. May abortion once again be accepted for what it always has been: a necessary component of responsible family planning."

In a video recorded for the Center for Reproductive Rights, Brenneman tells her story, which begins during her junior year of college.

She had been doing everything the "right" way, she says. She and her boyfriend had been having safe sex, but as no form of birth control is 100% effective, she became pregnant — a pregnancy she wasn't equipped to deal with.

GIFs from the Center for Reproductive Rights.

She eventually went on to have two children of her own at a time in her life when she was ready and able to parent.

And that's not at all odd. Many women who've had abortions either already have children (61%) or plan on having children at another point in their lives. In cases where a pregnancy is terminated as the result of a fetus being non-viable or threatening to the life of the woman, many of those pregnancies are even planned.

Still, in Brenneman's case, this was an unplanned pregnancy, and she chose to terminate it for the sake of her own well-being and the well-being of her future family. And legally, this is her choice to make. Whether somebody else would do the same thing in her situation is beside the point — that's why it's called a choice.

The world we now live in, the world of laws like HB2, would have taken Brenneman's uneventful experience and turned it into a nightmare.

Rather than that simple experience of finding a doctor in a phone book, undergoing a quick procedure, and being able to move on with her life, things could have been so different.

Since 2010, more than 231 new abortion restrictions have been implemented by states across the country. HB2 just happens to be one of the harshest.

Here are three things restrictive abortion laws like HB2 do to make things as inaccessible and uncomfortable as legally possible.

Recall how Brenneman called her abortion "uneventful"? Lawmakers are actively trying to make sure that's not the case anymore.


1. Restrictions on clinics would have made finding a doctor a whole lot tougher for Brenneman.

HB2 includes a host of provisions aimed at shutting down clinics. From requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at local hospitals (often difficult to get and totally unnecessary) to regulating the size of hallways, signage, or even bathrooms, these provisions — called targeted regulation of abortion provider (TRAP) laws — serve one purpose: to make it harder for clinics to stay in business.

Lawmakers claim these regulations benefit women's health, though it's unclear how making sure a hallway can accommodate two rolling beds at the same time (something that you'd almost never need to do in an abortion clinic) accomplishes that. And it's not as though there's any data to back lawmakers up. The only data that seems to matter is the number of clinics that get shut down as a result.

2. With laws like these on the books, Brenneman may have had to wait up to 72 hours after an appointment with her doctor before having a procedure.

Dozens of states have waiting periods for abortions, often ranging from 24 to 72 hours. The stated goal of these periods is to make sure the woman is comfortable with her decision (as though she wasn't able to make up her mind on her own), but the end effect is that it often requires the person seeking the abortion to take off from work (a luxury many don't have), travel to one of just a few clinics in the state, stay in a hotel for multiple nights (which can be expensive) — all before having this simple procedure. What Brenneman described as "uneventful" suddenly becomes a stressful, multi-day road trip for basic health care.

3. Brenneman would have been forced to wade through piles of medically-dubious "counseling" designed to discourage her from going through with the procedure.

Six states require that the person seeking the abortion be told that personhood begins at conception. Four states make doctors tell women inaccurate information about their future post-abortion fertility. Five states require that doctors tell a woman that there's a link between abortion and breast cancer (there's not).

The goal here is to confuse and manipulate the woman. Officially, these are all presented as being in her best interest, but given the inaccuracy of so many of the claims that need to be made, it's hard to believe it's for anybody's good.

Today, as the Supreme Court hears arguments in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, this is how we fight back — by telling our stories.

We all know somebody who has had an abortion (though we may not know it). In her opinion post at Cosmo, Brenneman recounts asking former NARAL president Nancy Keenan why it seems the marriage equality movement has been able to make sure leaps forward in such a short amount of time while reproductive rights seem to be going in the wrong direction. Her answer? "Stories."

"The tide of marriage equality turned when same-gender couples began to tell their very specific stories: not being allowed in the hospital room of their partner, not being able to adopt children together, not being seen as equal to their heterosexual peers," writes Brenneman.

She's not wrong — and this is exactly why we've recently seen more women come forward to share their stories, whether it be through the #ShoutYourAbortion hashtag, A is For's "Abortion Tweets Theater," or even in the story of Wendy Davis, whose famous 13-hour filibuster of the bill that would eventually become HB2 made her a national hero to some women. Sharing stories makes a difference.

And that's what it'll take to move the needle on reproductive rights, too: stories. There's a lot of shame and stigma attached to abortion, but people like Brenneman are speaking out, filing briefings with the court, and just generally fighting back.

You can watch Amy Brenneman tell her story in the video below.

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.

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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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.

An en caul birth video shared by an OB-GYN in Argentina has gone viral.

Anyone who has experienced or attended a birth knows how magical it can be to witness a brand new human make its entrance into the outside world. Each birth is unique, each baby born an individual with untold potential.

But some births are extra unusual. In the vast majority of births, the protective amniotic sac that holds the baby and the amniotic fluid it "breathes" in the womb breaks at some point in the labor and delivery process. En caul births, in which a baby is born inside an intact amniotic sac, only occur in about 1 in 80,000 births. It's more common in cesarean births than vaginal births, but still very rare overall.

An en caul birth, sometimes called a "mermaid birth" or "veiled birth," is seen as a sign of good luck for the baby and parents in some cultures. From a scientific observation point of view, en caul births can give us close-up look at what a baby's life is like in utero.

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Emily Vondy's mom fail.

Sometimes, we have to just laugh at our failures.

“Here’s a little story to allow all the moms of littles out there to maybe feel a little better about yourself,” Emily Vondy told her 1.3 million TikTok followers.

In a TikTok video that has now garnered more than 500,000 views, Vondy shared perhaps one of the most hilarious “mom fail” stories of all time: forgetting her son’s actual birthdate.
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