She had an abortion at 19. Here's what she wants the author of a pro-life op-ed to know.

Renee Bracey Sherman was 19 when she had an abortion, and she doesn't regret it.

That, she says, is why she was livid after encountering activist Lori Szala's stark, anti-abortion op-ed in The New York Times, which is generating furious responses from readers.

Photo by Zach Gibson/AFP/Getty Images.


In the piece, Szala argues that labeling abortion an economic issue is "dehumanizing," both to prospective parents for whom child-rearing should be about more than money and to their prospective children.

"Parenting presents undeniable challenges, but no one argues that those challenges give parents the right to kill their children.

It’s also patronizing, and patently dishonest. Of course unplanned pregnancy presents challenges. But it doesn’t have to lead to economic failure. Abortion is society’s easy way out — its way of avoiding grappling with the fundamental injustices driving women to abortion clinics."

It's a belief, Szala explains, that is largely derived from her personal experience as a young mother-to-be who nearly ended her pregnancy — though she ultimately chose not to.

Pressured to abort when she became pregnant in high school, Szala says that she was dissuaded by a friend who told her she'd had an abortion and later came to regret her decision.

Bracey Sherman wants people to know that her choice to end her pregnancy without guilt is common to far more women — and there's data to back her up.

A longitudinal study published in 2015 found that 95% of women who had abortions felt that it had been the right decision. And other research has found that women seeking abortions are more certain in their decision than people considering other surgeries.

If she had the chance, Bracey Sherman says, she would ask Szala if she appreciated the freedom to make her decision on her own terms.

"Isn’t it nice that you had a choice?" Bracey Sherman asks, rhetorically. "Someone didn’t force you to do something that you didn’t want to do, whether it was to continue the pregnancy or not. Isn’t it nice that you had a choice?"

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

At the time of her pregnancy, Bracey Sherman says she was working a low-wage retail job and in an abusive relationship. The notion that people who are pregnant — particularly people of color — can simply pull themselves "up by [their] bootstraps" and make it work as a parent is a dangerous myth, she argues.

"[Szala] ignores the fact that so many people don’t even have boots."

Other critics of Szala's piece argue that, in a rush to chastise women who end their pregnancies, she fails to offer solutions for preventing unwanted pregnancies in the first place.

Some pointed out that Szala, who works for an organization that owns and operates crisis pregnancy centers, could stand to benefit financially from people taking her advice.

Still others argued that terminating a pregnancy — for any reason — should always be a matter of choice and insisting it shouldn't be often comes from a desire to punish or control women.

Bracey Sherman wants more women to tell their friends and family about their experiences with abortion, especially in the face of a surge in high-profile, anti-choice opinion pieces like Szala's making it into print.

A 2014 study conducted by Sarah Cowen at New York University found that people who are opposed to reproductive rights are roughly 21% less likely to say they know someone who has had an abortion than those who are pro-choice. Bracey Sherman believes that's not by chance — and that people who terminate their pregnancies may be less likely to tell their anti-choice friends and relatives.

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

"Everybody loves someone who has had an abortion," she says. "Pro-life people have abortions, religious people have abortions, we all have abortions," she says.

After getting involved with reproductive rights activism, Bracey Sherman started a project called "We Testify," which highlights the stories of people who have terminated pregnancies in an attempt to broker an understanding with those across the aisle.

If people aren't hearing, she believes, it's not for lack of speaking out.

"We’re here. We’re making our voices heard," Bracey Sherman says. "The question is: At what point are people going to actually listen to us?"

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Woman screams at a TikTokker she accused of stealing a car.

Guilherme Peruca turned on his camera's phone and started recording after an elderly woman began screaming at him through his passenger side window in a Lowe's parking lot. The woman was accusing him of stealing her friend's car, but she was mistaken.

"I need help!" the woman yells outside of his passenger side window. "Someone's trying to steal my best friend's car."

When Peruca told the woman the car was his she yelled back, "Get outta here" as she tried to pry open the door.

"He's stealing this car, it's not his!" the woman continued. "I don't care what he says!"

Eventually, a Lowe's employee intervened to sort out the situation. Peruca showed her his driver's license and car registration to prove the vehicle was his and then the employee calmly guided the woman away.

Peruca didn't need to show her his paperwork but he did so anyway just to deescalate the situation.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."