Renee Bracey Sherman : Growth and Liberation

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Why NPQ serves Renee proudly…

I had my abortion 11 years ago. When I realized I would need the procedure, I felt the effects of anti-abortion stigma, even though I grew up in a pro-choice family. Thankfully, I was in a better financial position than most and was able to afford it, though I maxed out my only credit card. My own abortion experience led me to develop a passion for sharing my story to support others, leading to my work at the National Network of Abortions.

The National Network of Abortion Funds is a network of abortion funds in 38 states, and our members often help people deal with the financial and logistical barriers to accessing abortion. That can be anything from not being able to pay for an abortion, to not being able to get a ride to the clinic, or having to travel because the closest clinic is in a different state. We know that the fight for reproductive justice is deeply intertwined with economic justice and political liberation, so we not only support people seeking abortions, but also build the grassroots organizing power of abortion funds in their local communities. Most people that have abortions are already parents, so being able to have somebody watch your other children while you’re getting healthcare is an issue. Having had an abortion, I deeply understand some of the logistical barriers and the emotions that go along with going through the process of getting one.

Sometimes our own experiences help us understand what the people that we serve are going through, and there are times that our experiences, because of our privileges, are different. It’s important to recognize when to step back, listen, and truly center the needs of the people you’re serving. I think that helps navigate the conversation and allows the most marginalized communities lead us toward solutions. For me, that’s the difference between helping and supporting: helping means simply giving someone a hand, but when you’re supporting someone you’re doing it because your liberation is tied in with theirs.

Every time I share my abortion story and I’m visible, and someone shares theirs back, and says, “I didn’t know that there was anyone else like me out there,” that is the moment that I say, “Yeah, that’s why I do this.” For six years, I didn’t really tell anyone about my abortion. I felt alone. That’s why I keep doing this, because I don’t want anyone to feel like they’re alone. As long as there are people having abortions who feel as if they’re alone, as long as there are queer folks out there who feel like they’re the only ones, as long as there are black folks dealing with racism, my job will continue.

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Why Renee Cares About NPQ…  

NPQ is a representation of the sector and its diversity. It emphasizes that leadership comes in all shapes and sizes and showing the career path of others that have come before you so you have something to model yourself on is huge.