Asheville, NC full spectrum doula group looking for new volunteer doulas

February 13, 2013

Check them out and apply if you are interested.

We are looking for people interested in training as abortion doulas to work with clients in the clinic. Doulas will be present and provide emotional support to clients before, during and after abortions. We are looking for people who can work at least 2 days a month as well as complete the required training, provided by the Open Umbrella Collective in September of 2012. Trained birth doulas are particularly encouraged to apply, though we are excited to bring on reproductive health and justice activists who have no prior doula training.

Details here.

About these ads

Bay Area Doula Project launches at home medication abortion support

February 12, 2013

I absolutely love seeing how the different full-spectrum doula groups around the country are developing their models. At this point, the majority are working to support people having abortions by partnering directly with clinics, so that everyone who comes to that clinic for a procedure has the option of doula support.

BADP just announced yesterday that they’ll be beginning to offer medication abortion support directly to people having abortions.

While providing the obvious benefits of privacy, confidentiality, and comfort, medication abortions pose some challenges to patients who may require extra support during their experience. Our doulas are prepared to offer in-home physical, emotional, educational, and spiritual support during the medication abortion experience. BADP has created a comprehensive model for providing in-home support after months of careful planning and training. To do this, we have consulted with medical experts, home-birth professional doula groups, and abortion access communities to ensure that it has responded to various practical concerns: for example, client contracts will be used to address issues of doula and client safety and legality of practice. The BADP has also created internal procedures to provide on-going guidance to volunteer doulas as they provide in-home support to clients.

Medication abortions are done through a series of pills that the person takes at home (sometimes the first dose is taken at the clinic) and then goes home where they will experience cramping and bleeding for a few days. BADP will send their volunteer doulas to support folks at home while they deal with the after-effects of the medication.

It’s possible there are other doulas out there who have already been providing this kind of support, but I’m excited to see a group organize volunteer care in this model. They’ve also created a training so that the doulas are adequately prepared. I can imagine a lot of the techniques we use during pregnancy and labor could be useful for dealing with the possible discomfort caused by the cramping and bleeding.


Remembering those still waiting for the promise of Roe

January 29, 2013

Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the historic Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision that opened the door for legal access to abortion in the US.
Every year the anniversary rolls around to different activities, commemorations, reflections. It’s my 7th anniversary as an active member of the broader reproductive justice community and I’m tired. Particularly as things play out in the media, as the different organizations put out their media initiatives, press releases, blog carnivals, I feel tired.

Tired of the same fights, tired of the old dynamics, tired of the fact that we’re losing. Generally, around the country, in those seven years since I’ve been part of this movement with a capital M, access to abortion has only gotten harder. More restrictions, more laws, more hurdles and barriers.

It’s tiring to fight a fight that we’re losing. From my latest column:

Each year, as the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade rolls around, I respond with a sigh. Each year comes the reminder that one complicated court case, hung on the premise of privacy, has wholly framed this movement I call home. The reminder that the conversation about Roe is usually uncomfortably celebratory. The reminder that the anti-choice movement almost always host rallies that outnumber ours by thousands on that day. The reminder that the media conversation tends to be dominated by white women who praise Roe, or questions of where the young people, like me, are in the “pro-choice” movement.

The reminder that the promise of Roe has yet to be achieved for many, and that hundreds of dedicated activists, my peers, use their spare time to raise money for those for whom Roe is a hypothetical promise when the bank account sum doesn’t add up and the state programs say no. Each year, the celebration feels even less celebratory, as the laws and restrictions pile onto themselves. The legal concept of doctor/patient privacy may protect the procedure, but it doesn’t protect against forced misinformation, ultrasounds, waiting periods, public shame and financial barriers.

But. But there is always that little inkling of hope, there are always those moments of change, of shifting, of opening that make you believe that maybe we are heading in the right direction. Full-spectrum doulas, and the movement we’re apart of, give me hope. The internet and the community it builds gives me hope. The Strong Families media series I helped promote this year that centered voices of people of color gives me hope. The video above, produced by an organization I’ve worked with for the last seven years (and just transitioned out of) gives me hope. It’s that hope the keeps me pushing even when I’m tired, even when I’m frustrated. You all give me hope.

You can read more about the media series in my latest column at RH Reality Check. I also had the fabulous opportunity to record a radio segment with Pati Garcia, aka Chula Doula, about the doula movement in honor of the Roe anniversary on a Los Angeles based show called Feministing Magazine on KPFK. Listen here!


Pro-choice pregnancy and the politics of language

December 13, 2012

I was inspired to write my latest column for RH Reality Check because of a number of emails I’ve gotten over the years with various questions about the issue of the language we use to talk about pregnancy and it’s impact on pro-choice politics.

From the column:

As a blogger and a doula, I think about this question of language a lot. What language to use when talking with people I’m supporting during their abortions? What about when supporting someone with a miscarriage? Should I use different language in one scenario over the other? How about when I write about these issues? If we call it a baby at only eight weeks, does that compromise our right to access abortion?

For me the answer is no. The reason that abortion is a decision best left to individuals who are pregnant is because it’s a complicated ethical and personal choice that one can only make for themselves. While there may be a lot of science regarding fetal development, when hearts beat and nervous systems are developed, there is no right answer when it comes to when life begins. It’s a question and a choice that every individual person has to grapple with for themselves. The same is true for the language of pregnancy and birth.

I do my best to mirror the language of the people I’m working with. If they call it a baby, I’ll call it a baby. If they call it a pregnancy, or a fetus, or a itty-bitty bundle of joy, I’ll do the same. Nothing about these language choices denotes anything about what choices should be available to pregnant people—it simply denotes how that individual person sees themselves and their pregnancy.

Read the full piece here.


Why the public funding debate could end abortion access all together

October 3, 2012

My latest column is up at RH Reality Check, reflecting on this 36th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, and why our movement’s decision not to go to battle for public funding for abortion is leading us down a slippery slope that could result in a total ban on abortion.

Sunday was the kind of anniversary you wish you didn’t have to celebrate: specifically, the 36th anniversary of the Hyde Amendment, one of the most restrictive reproductive rights laws in recent history. It restricts the use of federal funds for abortion services, meaning that people on publicly-funded insurance programs like Medicaid and Medicare (the low-income and the disabled) have to pay for abortion services out of pocket. The vast majority of the women affected by this ban are low-income, and if you are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid, you aren’t likely to be able to shell out anywhere from $300 to $3000 for an abortion procedure.

Efforts to repeal the Hyde amendment are more often than not seen as unrealistic, and advocates work instead to maintain the status quo—low-income women denied access to abortion. Often the argument is that if we try and fight the public funding battle, we might lose ground in overall access to abortion. But I think that the exact opposite is true. If we don’t fight the public funding debate, we’re going to lose altogether.

Even though the real reason to fight these policies is that no one should be restricted access to a medical procedure just because they are poor–sometimes it’s also important to demonstrate how these policies actually put everyone’s access at risk, low-income or not. The reason is because we live in a classist society, and low-income people’s needs are not always represented in the agenda of big movements. So their needs get sold out in an effort to preserve access overall, but what I’m arguing is that overall access is being put at risk because of these concessions.

Read the whole thing here.


Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion

September 28, 2012

Thanks to Steph Herold on twitter, I found out that today is the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. A little more poking around and I learned that it’s a day that was inspired by activists in Latin America:

Spanish logo for 28th of september

September 28 Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion has its origin in Latin America and the Caribbean where women’s groups have been mobilizing around September 28 the last two decades to demand their governments to decriminalize abortion, to provide access to safe and affordable abortion services and to end stigma and discrimination towards women who choose to have an abortion. The original name of the campaign in Latin America and the Caribbean is Campaña 28 de Septiember por la Despenalización del Aborto, which continues up to this day growing in force and commitment on the part of women’s rights activists in the region. The date – September 28 – was chosen in commemoration of the abolition of slavery in Brazil which is now remembered as the day of the “free womb” demanding for safe and legal abortion for all women.

While we face our own serious battles in the US, particularly around issues of access to abortion, it’s good to be reminded that internationally, in many countries, the situation is much worse. Countries where abortion is completely criminalized, where women who arrive at the hospital with bleeding or a miscarriage can be turned into the police.

We’re not so far from that reality in the US, either historically or in the potential future, but the struggles are distinct. Thinking globally reminds of us this fact, and encourages us to understand this is a worldwide struggle.

For me the battle for access to safe and legal abortion is indicative of a much larger struggle that goes way beyond this one procedure. It’s a struggle for autonomy, for respect, for trust in each of us as individuals to make the best choices for us. It’s a struggle against doctrine, politics and ideology that limits how we live our lives.

Check out actions for today’s event here.


NYC, DC and Chicago full spectrum doula program recruitment!

April 26, 2012

It’s gonna be a busy summer for all you aspiring full spectrum doulas!

Volunteer programs in NYC, DC and Chicago are all accepting applications for summer trainings.

More details after the jump!

Read the rest of this entry »


Video: Bianca Laureano on being an abortion doula

February 16, 2012

Bianca made this video blog about being an abortion with the NYC based Doula project. She’s awesome, and her experience very much mirrors mine. Also, her earrings rock.


So what is an abortion doula?

January 12, 2012

Obviously this is a topic much discussed on this blog, but it is also a role that is ever evolving. The Doula Project of NYC has had a major role is shaping this work, so I’d thought I’d share a recent interview published by Abortion Gang with Leadership Circle member Kathleen Reutter.

The Doula Project of New York City is a non-profit providing support to people across the spectrum of pregnancy. It is volunteer-run and all of its services are free of charge. Since 2008, its 50 trained abortion and birth doulas have provided services to over 5,000 people in the New York City area. I talked with Kathleen, who has been a doula with the Project since 2009 and a member of the Leadership Circle for the past year and a half.

To start-off, could you first describe a little about what an abortion doula is?

An abortion doula provides emotional, physical, and informational support to people choosing abortion. As part of the Doula Project, our doulas also support people facing miscarriage, stillbirth, and fetal anomaly and provide birth doula services to low-income people and to people choosing adoption. All in all, our mission is to offer care and compassion to pregnant people making a variety of choices regarding their pregnancy and/or birth.

What does a day’s work for an abortion doula look like?

Depending on the site, our doulas work with between four and 15 abortion clients per day.  When I work with an abortion client, I try to help her feel safe and at ease. Any medical procedure can be scary, but facing an abortion can be especially frightening for some because of the wealth of inaccurate information and the stigma surrounding the procedure. Before the abortion begins I try to help my client feel comfortable by answering her questions and chatting. I’m usually with her as she meets the doctor and the nursing staff.

Being awake during an abortion is very doable but is sometimes painful. During the procedure I may help her breathe through uncomfortable moments, explain what’s happening, squeeze her hand, stroke her forehead, and distract her with conversation about her favorite TV show or her weekend plans. Afterwards I help her get settled in the recovery room. I may give her a hot pack to place on her abdomen to help with cramps and put cool cloths on her forehead and back of her neck if she’s overheated. Some of my clients want to talk a lot in the recovery room, others are quieter. If my client is settled and seems to be feeling okay, I often sit quietly in a chair close by, ready to engage if and when she chooses.

Read the full interview over at Abortion Gang. And for more about my experiences as an abortion doula, check out my Abortion Doula Diaries series.


Abortion Doula Diaries: Advice for supporting a friend

January 10, 2012

There was a post on Jezebel last week that tackled the question of how to help a friend through an abortion. It was a follow-up to a similar post about helping a friend through a miscarriage. Both posts are worth checking out, as they give good advice to friends and support people.

The main takeaway from both, which happens to be my main tactic as an abortion doula, is listen and don’t assume.

Most of the time people looking for support really just want to be heard and to have their feelings validated. They don’t want to be told they should feel differently than they do, or even necessarily helped to cheer up. Think about it next time you are struggling–what do you really need?

Because pregnancy, and especially abortion, are such hot-button political issues, we’ve all got an opinion about it. We’ve all got the latest anti-abortion injustice on our minds.

People are often surprised when I tell them that my work as an abortion doula is mostly about listening, and hand-holding. Not a lot of talking, or educating, or even really doing. A lot of smiling, a lot of encouragement to breath and relax, and a whole lot of listening.

With friends and family members the temptation to give advice is really strong, because we know them and their life and might think that means we know what is best for them. But unless someone is asking us for advice, or asking questions, the best thing we can do is listen and validate how they are feeling. The reality is we don’t know what’s best for anyone other than ourselves.

This is something I’m working hard to apply to my everyday life, but it definitely applies in the context of abortion or miscarriage support.

The only correction I’ll provide to the Jezebel post is to this part:

Baumgardner notes that abortion doulas can offer support to women going through the procedure — you can help her figure out if a doula is right for her, or help her locate one.

While abortion doulas do obviously exist, I know of no programs where individual people can seek out and bring a doula along with them to a clinic. Most of the abortion doula programs partner with clinics directly, so if you went to one of those clinics, you’d most likely encounter a doula there who would accompany you.

What the article references is more like a birth doula situation. It’s possible that abortion doulas will shift to that model some day, but for now it’s primarily clinic partnerships. If there is an abortion doula group in your area (I have a list here, any programs with asterisks) you could get in touch with them to see what clinics they serve, and choose your provider that way.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,684 other followers

%d bloggers like this: