December 10, 2021

What happens after Roe? Two legends discuss

As SCOTUS weighs overturning the legal right to abortion, Brittany Packnett Cunningham sat down with two leaders who continue to center the humanity of people who seek abortions: legendary activist Gloria Steinem and the “Beyoncé of abortion storytelling” Renee Bracey Sherman. On this week’s episode of UNDISTRACTED, they get into everything from their own stories to why the movement has sidelined the populations it serves. There’s laughter, tears, anger—and yes, even hope.

Gloria Steinem is a journalist and activist who’s been campaigning for reproductive freedom for more than half a century. In 1972, she and 52 other women published an open letter in Ms. Magazine, “We Have Had Abortions.” She later co-founded Voters for Choice and Choice USA, and at 87, continues to do the work.

Renee Bracey Sherman is a reproductive justice activist and founder of We Testify, an organization dedicated to the leadership and representation of people who’ve had abortions, in particular people of color, queer folks, and those from rural or conservative communities. The co-author (with Regina Mahone) of the upcoming book Countering Abortionsplaining, Bracey Sherman submitted a brief to the Supreme Court this fall on behalf of 6,641 people who’d had abortions.

This week’s episode also features a guest introduction from The Meteor’s Rebecca Carroll, cultural critic and author of several books, including most recently, Surviving the White Gaze.


Highlights of the episode include:

Steinem on abortion and democracy: “Our bodies and controlling our own bodies, male and female, is the basis of democracy. If we’re missing one thing, it’s the rock bottom statement: If we don’t have power to decide the fate of our own bodies, there is no democracy.”

Bracey Sherman on how abortion shapes families: “It was really beautiful as I was working through the names to put in the amicus brief. I was going through all 6,641 names to see not only mine and my mother’s, but also my cousins’ and my aunts’, just so many people in my family…this reminder that our families are made by abortion.”

Steinem on what needs to get done: “I think that without letting up any pressure on keeping the laws as just as they should be and the procedures as economically available as they should be—all that goes without saying—but at the other end of that is the clear determination with each other and our own strength that we are going to support each other in doing whatever we fucking well have to do to achieve reproductive choice and freedom for each one of us.”

Bracey Sherman on how to help: “Think about how far you would go, and what you would do to make sure that someone you love has access to an abortion, and do those things. And that can be as simple as telling them that you love them and showing up and talking about your values. For those of you who’ve had abortions, when you feel ready, share your stories, but also give your time and energy to local abortion funds, go to to show up for the independent abortion providers in the clinics. We need everybody to show up and show out.”

Listen on Apple Podcasts, AudibleSpotifyStitcher or wherever you get your podcasts.


This week, the Supreme Court handed down its Texas decision, allowing abortion providers to challenge Senate Bill 8, but leaving the ban itself in place. Texas SB 8, which went into effect September 1, outlaws abortion after six weeks of pregnancy and has effectively eliminated nearly all abortion care in the state.

Need a refresher? Listen to our September briefing (or read the highlights), After Texas: The Fight for Abortion Access, held in partnership with the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and featuring:

  • Amy Hagstrom Miller of Whole Woman’s Health Alliance, part of the coalition to stop SB 8
  • Jenny Ma, one of the CRR attorneys representing the providers in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (the Mississippi case that seeks to overturn Roe v. Wade)
  • Jessica Pinckney of Access Reproductive Justice in California
  • Moderator Dahlia Lithwick of Slate

Watch the briefing to learn what it looks like on the ground in Texas.

This briefing was produced by The Meteor and is supported by The Meteor Fund, an affiliated charitable project of The Meteor. The Meteor Fund is fiscally-sponsored by New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity.



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