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?"

More


Climate change is happening because the earth is warming at an accelerated rate, a significant portion of that acceleration is due to human activity, and not taking measures to mitigate it will have disastrous consequences for life as we know it.

In other words: Earth is heating up, it's kinda our fault, and if we don't fix it, we're screwed.

This is the consensus of the vast majority of the world's scientists who study such things for a living. Case closed. End of story.

How do we know this to be true? Because pretty much every reputable scientific organization on the planet has examined and endorsed these conclusions. Thousands of climate studies have been done, and multiple peer-reviewed studies have been done on those studies, showing that somewhere between 84 and 97 percent of active climate science experts support these conclusions. In fact, the majority of those studies put the consensus well above 90%.

Keep Reading Show less
Nature

As a child, Dr. Sangeeta Bhatia's parents didn't ask her what she wanted to be when she grew up. Instead, her father would ask, "Are you going to be a doctor? Are you going to be an engineer? Or are you going to be an entrepreneur?"

Little did he know that she would successfully become all three: an award-winning biomedical and mechanical engineer who performs cutting-edge medical research and has started multiple companies.

Bhatia holds an M.D. from Harvard University, an M.S. in mechanical engineering from MIT, and a PhD in biomedical engineering from MIT. Bhatia, a Wilson professor of engineering at MIT, is currently serving as director of the Marble Center for Cancer Nanomedicine, where she's working on nanotechnology targeting enzymes in cancer cells. This would allow cancer screenings to be done with a simple urine test.

Bhatia owes much of her impressive career to her family. Her parents were refugees who met in graduate school in India; in fact, she says her mom was the first woman to earn an MBA in the country. The couple immigrated to the U.S. in the 1960s, started a family, and worked hard to give their two daughters the best opportunities.

"They made enormous sacrifices to pick a town with great public schools and really push us to excel the whole way," Bhatia says. "They really believed in us, but they expected excellence. The story I like to tell about my dad is like, if you brought home a 96 on a math test, the response would be, 'What'd you get wrong?'"

Keep Reading Show less
Packard Foundation
True

I live in a family with various food intolerances. Thankfully, none of them are super serious, but we are familiar with the challenges of finding alternatives to certain foods, constantly checking labels, and asking restaurants about their ingredients.

In our family, if someone accidentally eats something they shouldn't, it's mainly a bit of inconvenient discomfort. For those with truly life-threatening food allergies, the stakes are much higher.

I can't imagine the ongoing stress of deadly allergy, especially for parents trying to keep their little ones safe.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Amy Johnson

The first day of school can be both exciting and scary at the same time — especially if it's your first day ever, as was the case for a nervous four-year-old in Wisconsin. But with a little help from a kind bus driver, he was able to get over his fear.

Axel was "super excited" waiting for the bus in Augusta with his mom, Amy Johnson, until it came time to actually get on.

"He was all smiles when he saw me around the corner and I started to slow down and that's when you could see his face start to change," his bus driver, Isabel "Izzy" Lane, told WEAU.

The scared boy wouldn't get on the bus without help from his mom, so she picked him up and carried him aboard, trying to give him a pep talk.

"He started to cling to me and I told him, 'Buddy, you got this and will have so much fun!'" Johnson told Fox 7.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared