The Reproductive Justice Activist Fighting for Black and Brown Women
An interview with Renee Bracey Sherman on abortion storytelling and the sanctity of our bodies
With Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent passing and President Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to replace her, the Supreme Court could be weeks away from transforming into a solidly conservative judicial body. Reproductive rights hang in the balance. We have never needed activist Renee Bracey Sherman and her work more.
Bracey Sherman had an abortion at age 19. Aside from her partner, she told no one until several years later. When she finally did, she felt empowered, loved, and embraced. She wanted other people who had abortions to feel this way, too.
Soon thereafter, Bracey Sherman discovered “reproductive justice,” a movement started in 1994 by a group of Black women who saw the need to expand pro-choice activism to something more inclusive and intersectional in order to address the myriad cultural and institutional forces that affect Black women’s bodily autonomy. After a move from the Bay Area to Washington, D.C., Bracey Sherman founded We Testify, an organization that represents, nurtures, and features the stories of Black and Brown folks who’ve had abortions.
As an advocate for abortion and reproductive health care for Black and Brown folks, Bracey Sherman has continued to speak out, build community, and provide resources to those who need them the most.
This interview has been edited for clarity and space.
ZORA: What led you to reproductive justice work?
Renee Bracey Sherman: As a biracial Black woman, I feel as if I was born into this movement. Reproductive justice is our lives and what our experiences are. I was never ashamed about my abortion—society told me to be. But I started formally learning about reproductive justice as a framework and doing activism in the movement itself. If you ask folks of color what reproductive justice is, they might not know the term, but they live reproductive justice.
“Black and Brown organizations that focus on reproductive justice are severely underfunded compared to…