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Entries in Renee Bracey Sherman (6)


Men Choose Abortion Too

Today we have a post from one of BADP's amazing doulas, Renee Bracey Sherman, which was originally posted yesterday at RH Reality Check. Check out Renee's biography here; her other posts include "Searching for the Perfect Card," "Keep Politics 25 Feet Away From My Health Care," and "Similar Experiences but Never the Same."

Men Choose Abortion Too

By Renee Bracey Sherman

Originally posted at RH Reality Check

This week, the anti-choice group Live Action posted an article about how men can stop the women in their lives from obtaining an abortion. The article tells men not to “give your permission for abortion or help her get one,” suggests getting a restraining order against their partner, and advises them to buy their partner prenatal vitamins and baby supplies. But the most wrongheaded thing about the piece is that not all men are against abortion—many think it is a complicated issue and support their partners in their decision-making.

When I became pregnant at 19, I was scared. I was at my then-boyfriend’s best friend’s house when I decided to take the test. They were in the other room playing video games, and I told my boyfriend that I was going in to the bathroom to get the results. Positive. I sat on the toilet and cried. I cried for 45 minutes alone. When I finally had the strength to leave the bathroom, I signaled for him to meet me in the living room. We sat on the couch and he hugged me. He knew the result of the test.

“What do you want to do?” he asked me.

“Well, I’m not ready to be a parent. I don’t want to be pregnant,” I replied.

We sat in silence for a minute, and then I asked him what he thought. He said that he had always pictured us staying together and raising a family, but also knew how hard it would be. We had friends with children and saw the challenges they faced and how hard they worked to be great parents. I was proud of them, but knew it was something I wasn’t ready for. We weren’t ready.

As I was still deciding on how to continue our pregnancy, I consulted two other people—both single fathers, co-parenting an infant and a toddler with their children’s mothers, and both friends of my boyfriend. I asked them what they thought I should do.

“I love my son. I really do,” one friend told me. “He means the world to me. But if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t.” He explained that parenting is harder than he thought it would ever be, and once you leave the hospital you also leave all its resources, safety nets, and support. He also wanted the option to decide when he could become a parent—a time when he and his child would be set up for success.

The other friend’s advice was simple: “Abortion is tough, but if that’s what you feel, then that’s your answer.” He also explained that being a parent is hard, and admitting you’re not ready for it is a mature, parent-like thing to do.

As I continue to share my abortion experience publicly, I meet people who want to share theirs with me. Some of those people are men. I’ve heard stories about how the choice was tough, but they appreciated that their partner included them in the decision. They too felt abortion was the best option at that time. Some have gone on to have other children, while others haven’t. Once a man told me that when he and his partner became pregnant after having an abortion, they had such a different feeling about it: “We knew that this time, we were ready to be parents. I felt like a father.”

Being a parent is about more than buying prenatal vitamins and diapers. It is about having the ability to support a person for the rest of your life. And when I decide to become a parent, I want to make sure that I am in a place where I am ready to do that. And I want to do it with a partner who is ready to respect our children, our family, and me. What Live Action doesn’t understand is that supporting someone through an abortion is a form of love as well. It’s a deep respect for all of life’s complexities. And I believe that most men, and fathers, understand that too.


Keep Politics 25-Feet Away from My Health Care

by Renee Bracey Sherman

On April 18th, I stood in City Hall and said something that the dozens of speakers before me hadn’t said. “I had an abortion”. I was speaking during the public comments portion of the committee hearing for Supervisor David Campos’ proposed 25-foot Buffer Zone around San Francisco’s reproductive health care clinics. At the hearing, people spoke “for women” and what they needed, on the infringement of first amendment rights, and the nuisance that the protestors create in the Mission neighborhood outside the Valencia Street Planned Parenthood. But no one was speaking about what I was feeling: the experience and emotions of walking into an abortion clinic.

When I was 19, I became pregnant, and my partner and I decided that an abortion was the best option for us. A few days later, I found myself ringing the doorbell to a small private clinic, waiting to be buzzed in. As I walked through the bombproof door, I realized that while I felt that I was going in for a legal medical procedure that I needed, one that I wanted, others would rather wish me harm than give me health care. That scared me.

Years later, I still feel that chill as I walk past anti-abortion protestors. They hand me papers about abortion, and even when I refuse them politely and continue walking, they try to hand them to me and yell at me. “You’re a killer.” I’m afraid the situation could escalate if they find out that I indeed had an abortion. This isn’t what health care is supposed to be like. 

Eleven states, including California, and the District of Columbia have laws prohibiting the obstruction of a reproductive health care clinic. Currently, three states – Colorado, Massachusetts, and Montana – have an 8-foot ‘bubble zone’ around patients as they enter a clinic, which begins anywhere from 35 feet to 100 feet from the clinic’s door. These are similar to San Francisco’s current ordinance, which the full board of supervisors will vote to increase to 25-feet on May 7th.

As they stand, the current laws are not protecting patients. One hearing’s of the anti-abortion protestors said that she only provides sidewalk counseling, and that a greater distance would just encourage protestors to yell louder at the patients. Take it from me – an abortion can be a tough decision, and having a crowd of people yell at you at the top of their lungs doesn’t make it any easier.

At the San Francisco hearing on Supervisor Campos' proposed 25 foot Buffer Zone to protect patients accessing healthcare services.What those of us choosing abortion need is support and compassion – not yelling. What we need is peace. We need to be trusted. Part of our first amendment and civil rights is to be able to exercise a health care decision that we have made for ourselves. I did the research. I talked to my partner. You may not believe that my decision was the right one, but it was mine to make. And I don’t deserve to be yelled at right before I go in for a surgical procedure. Twenty-five feet is a start to creating a peaceful space around my health care.

Renee Bracey Sherman, an abortion doula with the Bay Area Doula Project, speaks publicly about her abortion experience and the need to end abortion stigma. 

Interview on BBC World Newshour with BADP Volunteer Renee Bracey Sherman

In July, Renee was asked to be a guest on BBC World Newshour to discuss why she chose to come out about her abortion experience publicly. She was joined by ‘Jane’ from and Erin Ryan of Jezebel

Click here for a link to this awesome interview!

We hope to see you at the Salon Series event, "Spirituality and Reproductive Experience," tomorrow, Wednesday, August 29 from 7-8:30pm at Million Fishes Art Collective (2501 Bryant Street, San Francisco)!


Meet the doulas: Renee Bracey Sherman

Who are the doulas who volunteer with the BADP? They're amazing, diverse people, doing so much great work in the world, it's hard to believe any of them has time to volunteer with us.  We've been using this space to introduce you to many of the BADP doulas. Here's Renee Bracey Sherman, who manages the BADP's Facebook and Twitter pages and helps to plan the Salon Series events.


Renee Bracey Sherman is from Chicago, Illinois where she graduated from Northeastern Illinois University, studying economics and sociology. Renee found a passion in working to break down barriers of multiple oppressions that women/people of color/LGBT/low income/immigrant folks face each day by sharing stories. After six years of silence, Renee decided to speak out about her abortion experience and share her story with others - which she found to be healing for herself.

Reneehas spoken about her abortion experience and her choice to share her story on panels for Exhale and the BBC Radio's Newshour. She hopes that by sharing her personal abortion experience, she can help move the conversation past partisan lines and to a compassionate and caring level. By day, Renee is a fundraiser for Wikimedia Foundation and in her spare time, she volunteers for ACCESS, and serves on the Board of Directors of Young Nonprofit Professionals Network San Francisco Bay Area Chapter. Renee is excited to be an abortion doula and tweet for Bay Area Doula Project, and to support those accessing abortion in the Bay Area.


Tuesday Guest Post: "Coming Out of My Closet"

Every Tuesday we will be featuring a guest post related to abortion support, reproductive justice, and other topics relevant to our mission as an organization dedicated to providing nonjudgmental, compassionate and empowering full-spectrum doula services. If you are interested in writing a post for our Tuesday series, email Kelly N. 

This week's post is another excellent piece by BADP volunteer Renee Bracey Sherman about talking about her abortion, and was originally posted on the blog at Exhale.  Read her bio and previous post here.


Coming Out of My Closet

By Renee Bracey Sherman

Originally posted at Exhale


For six years, I didn’t talk about my abortion. I sat in the closet, alone – very alone. For six years, I only knew three women who had abortions – one being a cousin of mine, yet we still didn’t talk about it. I was afraid of what people would think of me, what they would say if I talked about it, the names they would call me if I came out of the closet. For a long time, I barely admitted to myself that I had an abortion.

The first time I spoke publicly about my abortion was in Fresno, California. Previously, I’d written about my experience in a blog post and spoken about it with Exhale’s talk line counselors in training, but this was different. It was the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training’s academy for nonprofit fundraising staff. I had been attending for a few days and getting to know my peers, but not on a personal level. It wasn’t designed as a safe space for abortion stories, I was on a panel about fundraising and I was there to talk about why I am a donor to Exhale and the pro-voice movement. Fresno is a conservative agricultural city in California and I was scared. Why I give to Exhale has everything to do with my abortion experience and I couldn’t explain one without the other. I was so nervous I couldn’t breathe. I was afraid to out myself in a room of people I barely knew.

Click to read more ...