Meet The Storytellers

These are the three women who share their experiences navigating a hostile landscape and the barriers they faced along the way to getting a later abortion.

This is a personal storytelling film created as a way to foster empathy & dismantle stigma.

The film also features two experts – a prominent Reproductive Justice leader and abortion rights activist, and a family medicine physician.

Valerie Peterson is an African-American mom of two, a corporate professional living in Texas, born and raised on the Southside of Chicago in a Pentecostal family. Valerie unexpectedly got pregnant for a third time after her two daughters were grown. But at 15 weeks everything started to go wrong. Valerie had to make a hard decision – fast. Living in Texas meant she was up against the clock. By the time she decided to terminate, it was too late and she had to leave the state to get the care she needed in time. Valerie had to take extensive time out of work, which meant telling her boss what was going on. Valerie took all the anger and frustration she felt and has been an outspoken advocate for abortion rights ever since.

Sharon Lagos is a Latina woman from Honduras, who came to the U.S. to study. While back in Honduras on a summer break, she became pregnant by her boyfriend at the time. She was not in a position to have a baby and took a Plan B pill. Since abortion is banned in Honduras, Sharon had to get the pill on the black market. But after returning to school in the US, she discovered she was still pregnant and freaked out. She called her boyfriend who told her that she should “deal with it”. Not having a support system around her, Sharon tried to find an abortion clinic. She stumbled upon a crisis pregnancy center, also known commonly as a “fake clinic”. Sharon was forced to watch propaganda videos about abortion and told lies about how far along she was in her pregnancy. Sharon left in tears but eventually she found a real abortion clinic. By this time, she was past the first trimester which meant she had to travel out of state to get the procedure, as well as raise thousands of dollars. Her experience was stressful and lonely. Sharon became an abortion storyteller as a way of regaining her power.

Mindy Swank is a mother of three from Illinois, who grew up as a conservative Baptist. When she became pregnant for the second time, she was heartbroken to get a diagnosis that meant her pregnancy would not viable. Mindy assumed her hospital would allow her to terminate, considering the fatal diagnosis. Unfortunately, she was in a Catholic hospital system which refused to help her, because they were bound by the laws of the Catholic Church. As the weeks progressed, Mindy began miscarrying, yet the hospital system still refused to offer her an abortion because they detected a heartbeat and she was not bleeding “enough”. At 27 weeks, after a lot of blood loss, she went into labor. It was a traumatic experience that still haunts her to this day. All the laws and religious barriers that stood in her way meant she wasn’t able to make the right decision for her, early in her pregnancy.

Meet The Experts

Renee Bracey Sherman is a reproductive justice activist, abortion storyteller, strategist, and writer. She is the founder and executive director of We Testify, an organization dedicated to the leadership and representation of people who have abortions and share their stories at the intersection of race, class, and gender identity.

Renee is also an executive producer of Ours to Tell, an award-winning documentary elevating the voices of people who’ve had abortions.

Dr. Meera Shah is a family medicine physician currently serving as the chief medical officer of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic in New York. Shah is a strong advocate for increasing sexual and reproductive health access in under-served areas and communities.

A Fellow with the Physicians for Reproductive Health, Shah is dedicated to calling out the injustices that keep people from exercising their autonomy. She is also the author of ‘You’re The Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion’.