Gretchen Sisson


Gretchen Sisson, PhD, is a sociologist who studies abortion and adoption in the United States. She is a researcher at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, part of the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco.

Gretchen is the author of Relinquished: The American Mothers Behind Infant Adoption, forthcoming from St. Martin’s Press in January 2024. (To receive updates on the book, please sign up here.) Her studies on adoption includes hundreds of in-depth interviews with women who have relinquished infants for domestic adoption over the past 60 years, with a particular focus on women who have relinquished since Roe v. Wade.

Her research examing adoption decision-making after abortion denial (as part of The Turnaway Study) was cited in the Supreme Court’s dissent in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health from Justices Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayor. In response to the oral arguments and decision in Dobbs, she authored pieces in the Washington Post, The Nation, and the Washington Post (again). Gretchen’s research been featured on NPR’s All Things Considered and Consider This, as well as in New York Magazine, VOX, and other outlets.

Gretchen is also the principal investigator for the Abortion Onscreen program, studying depictions of abortion in American popular culture. This work has been featured in the New York TimesWashington PostNPRTIME MagazineNew York Magazine and many other outlets over the last decade.

She currently serves on the Boards of Directors for Emerge America and WDN Action (a sister organization of the Women Donors Network), and on the steering committee for Electing Women Bay Area. She writes a monthly newsletter on Democratic political giving for a reflective democracy. Gretchen works to build the pipeline of Democratic women in elected office, with the enduring goal of electing a woman to The White House. Her work as a donor was featured on NPR and in San Francisco Magazine. A believer in the power of storytelling in all forms, Gretchen is a financing producer for Emmy and Peabody award-winning documentaries Chasing Coral (2017) and Belly of the Beast (2020), as well as the upcoming feature film Call Jane (2022).

Gretchen is represented by McKinnon Literary. She lives in San Francisco with her husband, three children, and their little free library. She is a native of Pennsylvania, and an alumna of Amherst College and Boston College.