house of representatives
An reproductive rights activist stood before Congress and gave a powerful testimony on how to self-manage the procedure of terminating pregnancies in a post-Roe era.
On Tuesday, Renee Bracey Sherman, the founder and executive director of We Testify–an organization "dedicated to the leadership and representation of people who have abortions"—was the first to speak under oath during the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations panel.
She used her time to educate.
\u201cFirst time ever, I believe, a witness has explained step-by-step how to self-manage an abortion with pills. \n\n"Everyone loves someone who has abortions," says @RBraceySherman after explaining how to self-manage your abortion.\u201d— Alanna Vagianos (@Alanna Vagianos) 1658241807
The panel of five witnesses gathered to discuss "The Impacts of Taking Away the Constitutional Right to an Abortion" following the US Supreme Court's controversial decision in June to reverse Roe v Wade–which previously gave people federal protection of reproductive rights for over half a century.
During the hearing, Sherman shared in her testimony how she once considered throwing herself down the stairs–when she was 19 and pregnant–because she didn't know if she could "hold on" and "be pregnant for one more moment," even though she had already made an appointment for an abortion.
"One night, I drank until I couldn’t any longer, believing that it would cause a miscarriage. It didn’t work," she recalled.
You can watch her full testimony beginning at the 38:22 mark in the video, below.
While SCOTUS left it up to individual states to grant legal access to reproductive care following the reversal of Roe, Sherman asserted:
"Abortion belongs in the hands of people who have them, plain and simple. Not in the hands of politicians who had to gerrymander their districts beyond recognition and suppress our votes to remain in power."
Sherman said she was grateful to have been able to terminate her unwanted pregnancy back when it was still a legal procedure in every state.
"Now it is not, and I know there are people out there who are going to try the methods I did," she continued.
"I want them to know that there are safe ways for them to self-manage their abortions, but unfortunately, because of the Supreme Court’s ruling and the callousness of state legislators, that could be a crime."
\u201cFor the first time ever before Congress, abortion rights advocate Renee Bracey Sherman described how to self-manage an abortion procedure using pills during a House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations panel hearing. \n\nGOOD FOR HER. https://t.co/VqvCN3QZx3\u201d— Amee Vanderpool (@Amee Vanderpool) 1658265823
The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests the safe option of medical abortion can be achieved "using tablets of mifepristone and misoprostol in combination or misoprostol alone."
They state that the self-managed method is a "non-invasive and highly acceptable option to pregnant persons."
An evaluation of abortion restrictions outlined in Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health stated that "Medication abortion is safer than many common drugs in the US," like acetaminophen (Tylenol.)
Sherman broke down how to take the medical combination for terminating a pregnancy in simple terms.
“It is one mifepristone pill followed by four misoprostol pills dissolved under the tongue 24 to 48 hours later, or a series of 12 misoprostol pills, four at a time, dissolved under the tongue every three hours.”
\u201cThank you @RBraceySherman for explaining how to safely self-manage an abortion using mife/miso OR miso only during your testimony before Congress, therefore making this info part of the public Congressional record! \ud83e\udd29\ud83e\udd2f A big step towards democratizing access to safe abortion.\u201d— L.A. for Choice (@L.A. for Choice) 1658339072
She added, “There’s no way to test it in the blood stream and a person doesn’t need to tell police what they took.”
\u201cRenee Bracey Sherman, you\u2019re my hero today!\u201d— MyGovtLooksBetterInBlue \u264d\ufe0f\ud83d\ude08\ud83c\udf0a\u2615\ufe0f (@MyGovtLooksBetterInBlue \u264d\ufe0f\ud83d\ude08\ud83c\udf0a\u2615\ufe0f) 1658267051
The practice of self-managed abortions–which is defined as one that takes place outside of a formal healthcare setting–is not considered illegal in the US, and procedures are expected to increase now that Roe is no longer considered a constitutional right.
WHO also stated medical abortion can be taken anywhere, including at home. They additionally noted the "direct supervision of a healthcare provider is not required."
"Abortion is just one of the many decisions that makes our families what they are," continued Sherman.
"I owe my life and my ability to sit here today to abortion access; not only my own but because a Black woman was able to have an abortion not too long after Roe v. Wade made it legal in Illinois," she said.
"She was in a relationship that wasn’t serving her and the abortion allowed her to leave and meet a man in nursing school. They married and had a child. That child was me."
To illustrate her point about what Roe v Wade represented to the American people, Sherman recalled what her mother once told her, which was, "Renee, I chose you."
"That’s exactly what abortion is about," she said, adding, "the ability for all of us to choose if, when, and how to create our families, on our own terms."
According to its website, Sherman's We Testify organization is "dedicated to the leadership and representation of people who have abortions, increasing the spectrum of abortion storytellers in the public sphere, and shifting the way the media understands the context and complexity of accessing abortion care."
The organization invests in abortion storytellers, and they endeavor to elevate the voices and expertise of marginalized communities–particularly "those of color, those from rural and conservative communities, those who are queer-identified, those with varying abilities and citizenship statuses, and those who needed support when navigating barriers"–while accessing reproductive care.
Sherman concluded her testimony with:
"On behalf of the over one hundred We Testify abortion storytellers, several of whom have testified before you already, we ask you to finally trust us to know what’s best for our families and futures."
"Rescind all bans on abortion so that we, and those you love, are able to have access to abortions at any time and for any reason, anywhere in this nation."