This is a series highlighting folks who identify as Radical Doulas. Are you interested in being part of the series? Go here to provide your responses to the profile questions and I’ll include you!
About Autumn: Autumn is an author, abortion doula, and feminist theologian who has been writing, appearing on television and speaking internationally about reproductive justice and feminism since 2010 when she founded Richmond Clinic Defense to help escort patients past protesters at an abortion clinic in Richmond, Virginia. She has spoken to thousands of people over the years as well as written for many popular and academic publications. In 2014, Autumn was one of four finalists for the Generation Personal Award given by the National Women’s Law Center in recognition of her work as a clinic defense founder and in 2015 Blog For Choice listed her as one of “15 Awesome Pro Choice Activists Who Work To #Protectthezone”. Autumn is an aspiring Anglican deacon and one-woman ministry that provides Albertans with transportation, housing, funds, childcare and other necessities as they seek abortion care. She is the author of The Guide to Humanist Ceremonies (Humanist Press, 2018) and is currently at work on her second book, The Companion: How To Become an Abortion Doula (2019). She is an American now living happily in Canada. You can visit her website here.
What inspired you to become a doula?
I’m not sure there was ever a single moment. I actually kind of slowly moved into the work! One of my favorite aspects of clinic defense was always when I got to interact with patients and reassure them or answer their questions. It was always most disturbing to me when I saw women in the clinic waiting around for a cab to take them home post-procedure. So, when I moved to Canada, it was only natural that I set up shop as an abortion doula so that I could work more intimately with patients. Now I’m working on setting up a formal curriculum to go along with the book I’m now writing on becoming an abortion doula.
Why do you identify with the term radical doula?
I think what is radical about what I do is that I do it as a Christian ministry and soon-to-be clergywoman. I am in the discernment process to (hopefully!) be ordained in the Anglican Church of Canada where I will be concentrating specifically on this work. That’s pretty crazy to most people who might be used to religion always being on the anti-abortion side.
What is your doula philosophy and how does it fit into your broader political beliefs?
My doula philosophy is best summed up in four words – It’s not about me. When I meet with a patient either in person, online, or over the phone, I believe that I am called to put aside anything else that might be going on in my mind or my life so that I can fully concentrate on this person. Whatever they are feeling, whatever they are saying, my job is simply to walk with them and to be a companion on what may be a tough journey. So many people just want to be heard and loved.
Politically, I am beyond radical. I envision a time where everyone is entitled to self-respect and dignity, a world that recognizes a reproductive justice framework. Personally, I don’t see that happening politically anytime soon. I think reproductive justice is really just a secular version of what we would call the Commonwealth of God – a time and place in which all people are free of racism, sexism, poverty, etc., and are free to relate fully to each other as human beings. It’s a little hippy dippy but hell, we have to be aspirational, don’t we?
What is your favorite thing about being a doula?
Being honored with the stories of others. It is an absolute honor that these people choose me to walk with them during such a vulnerable time.
If you could change one thing about the experience of pregnancy and birth, what would it be?
How often people are expected to go through it alone, and how often people are made to believe that what they feel and experience is abnormal and shameful when it doesn’t match up to our Pintrest ideas of motherhood.