3. Sherri


In August of 1962, Sherri Chessen boarded a flight to Sweden in order to get an abortion after she was unable to obtain one in the United States. Sherri had accidentally taken medicine containing thalidomide, a drug that caused children to be born with internal injuries and shortened limbs. Thalidomide also caused women to miscarry, deliver stillborn babies, or have children who died during their infancy. Her decision to terminate this risky pregnancy and her journey abroad attracted international attention from journalists, politicians, and religious leaders. Sherri’s ordeal made public what countless American women experienced when they sought to terminate their pregnancies. Her widely shared story changed the way many Americans thought about abortion laws and even about abortion itself. 

life magazine 1962.jpg

Hosts and Creators: Gillian Frank and Lauren Gutterman.

Producers: Rebecca Davis, Saniya Lee Ghanoui, Devin McGeehan Muchmore and Jayne Swift. 

Intern: Alexie Glover.

Music:  “Plaster Combo,” “Building the Sled,” “Mogul,” “The Basket,” “Taoudella,” “Silk and Silver,” “The Yards,” “Arbic Tallow,” “Velvet Ladder,” “The Telling,” “Midday,” “Guinea,” “Vittoro,” “Cases to Rest,” and “Skyway” by Blue Dot Sessions

Sherri Chessen, “The Lesser of Two Evils,” (1966) courtesy of Pacifica Radio Archives.

Our gratitude goes out to Sherri Chessen for sharing her story with us.

If you enjoyed this episode, please review us on iTunes or Soundcloud and share us on social media. 

Please support our work and keep new episodes coming by making a small donation to Sexing History. 


Selected Readings