Renee Bracey Sherman has been hailed as the ‘Beyoncé of Abortion Storytelling.’ She’s a Chicago-born, midwest-raised activist, writer and reproductive justice activist committed to the visibility and representation of people who have abortions in media and pop culture. She is among the most vital voices in the elevating the conversation about abortion experiences, and using creative and innovative strategies to shift the conversation centering people of color and other marginalized identities. She’s popularized the phrase “everyone loves someone who had an abortion,” coined ‘abortionsplaining,’ and created the #AskAboutAbortion campaign which has led to presidential candidates being asked questions about their plans to increase abortion access. Her work is so influential that the right-wing website Twitchy recognizes her as “the queen of all abortions” and once wrote that Renee “never met an abortion she didn’t love.”
It’s true, Renee loves everyone who had an abortion.
Renee is the founder and executive director of We Testify, an organization dedicated to the leadership and representation of people who have abortions, focusing on the intersection of race, class, and gender identity and centering those who’ve experienced financial and logistical barriers to abortion. She has trained hundreds of abortion storytellers in the United States and around the world, including elected officials. Their voices have been featured in articles, interviews, books, media, comics, events, and legislative testimony. Renee developed and designed a curriculum for storyteller support and training based on her extensive interviews with abortion storytellers.
In 2014, she published the results and recommendations from these interviews in two 20-page guides, Saying Abortion Aloud, which are used and referenced across the reproductive health, rights, and justice field. In 2015, Renee partnered with media critic and author Anita Sarkeesian and anti-rape activist and author Jaclyn Friedman to co-author Speak Up & Stay Safe(r), a multilingual digital guide on handling online harassment.
Renee has written over one hundred articles for the New York Times, the Guardian, The Washington Post, EBONY Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Newsweek, Salon, Broadly, Rewire.News, Huffington Post, Bustle, Glamour, and more. Her work has been cited in The Nation, The Atlantic, and she is a go-to voice for comment by editors and journalists on race, gender, and health care. Her analyses of pop culture representations of abortion have been featured in Bitch, Al Jazeera America, and more.
For four years, Renee served as the Senior Public Affairs Manager at the National Network of Abortion Funds she created We Testify. Previously, Renee worked at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that runs Wikipedia, and Gay-Straight Alliance Network. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and sociology from Northeastern Illinois University and a master’s degree in public administration from Cornell University, where she served as the communications chair of Women in Public Policy and the digital editor of the Cornell Policy Review.
Renee has received several awards for her work, including:
- Bitch Media’s Bitch 50 Honors, 2019
- Unstoppable Advocate Award, Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington, 2019
- Salute to Excellence Award by the National Association of Black Journalists, 2017
- National Women’s Health Network’s Activist Award, 2017
- Texas Equal Access Fund’s Spirit of Reproductive Justice Award, 2017
- Planned Parenthood’s 99 DreamKeepers, 2016
- Colorlines’ 16 Women of Color Who Made History, 2016
- Practical Support Volunteer of the Year by ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, 2014