Category Archives: Full Spectrum Doula Work

Full Spectrum & Radical Doulas: Take the Meetup Survey!

How fantastic would it be to sit in a room full of doulas who care as much as you do about abortion support and reproductive justice?  Or to hear presentations from the voices at the forefront of the full spectrum doula movement?

I am SO EXCITED to announce the launch of a survey that signals the beginning of something massive in the doula world.  As a part of the organizing body for this upcoming event, we ask that you give us your input, so we can create a gathering as diverse and vibrant as this movement is.

TAKE THE SURVEY

“This survey is about an exciting upcoming event that will be a ground-breaking first in the doula and reproductive health communities. The event will be a gathering of grassroots organizations and individuals interested in expanding the doula model of care to serve diverse populations and diverse pregnancy experiences.

Several organizations in the reproductive justice, full spectrum, and radical doula communities are collaborating to create this event, and as we begin this planning process, your input is key. If you are someone who would be interested in attending this event, please complete this survey and provide us with the valuable feedback we need to make this event the best it can be.

The organizing body for this event includes The Doula Project, the Full Spectrum Doula Network, Radical Doula, Full Spectrum Doulas, the Prison Birth Project, the Los Angeles Doula Project, Spectrum Doula Collective, Philly Collaborative for Reproductive Justice and Support, Open Umbrella Collective, and Kaleidoscope Doula Care.”

Whether you complete the survey or not, stay tuned here for updates on the event as our plans develop.

New Directory of Full Spectrum Doula Groups

As the full spectrum doula movement continues to grow and evolve, more and more groups are sprouting up across the U.S.  I’ve added a new page to the CUNTastic Blog, which lists a description and contact information for all of the groups I’m aware of.

At the bottom of the page, there is also a list of groups that are currently forming.  Please feel free to contact them and get involved!

If you know of any other programs that offer doula support for the full spectrum of pregnancy options, let me know at laurel@cuntastic.org.

Two Years After the Murder of Dr. George Tiller, Doulas are Standing Up for Abortion

As I reflect on the fact that today marks two years since the murder of Dr. George Tiller, I’m proud of what we’ve done in that time.  In the two years since women lost access to the abortion care Tiller provided, we’ve gained something else entirely–something that I think Dr. Tiller would be proud of, too.

What we’ve gained is the role of the abortion doula, and the immense momentum surrounding this movement.

There have always been pro-choice doulas.  And there have always been pregnant women in need of compassionate support for their abortions.  Now, finally, there are abortion doulas, who extend their compassion and skills into the abortion experience.

As a doula, I’m committed to women’s choices in pregnancy–where and how they give birth, who attends their birth, AND whether or not they give birth at all.  Dr. George Tiller was a physician who acknowledged these inextricable links between birth and abortion.  He understood the importance of access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care, and was one of the few brave folks in this country willing to risk his life to provide these critical services.

So today, while I’ve watched hundreds of pro-choice doula friends Tweeting and Facebooking in memory of Dr. Tiller, I’ve been reminded that his work has continued on, just in a different form.  Thank you to Dr. Tiller, and to every abortion doula and full spectrum doula, and to every other abortion service provider, for being so brave.

Full Spectrum Doulas in the Media

The full spectrum doula movement is gaining enormous momentum, and has been appearing more and more in the news and across the social media world recently.

Last week’s article ‘Doulas Aren’t Just for Births Anymore‘ by Michelle Tavarez gives a thorough Full Spectrum 101 kind of introduction to abortion support.  Hopefully this article, published by the Columbia News Service at Columbia University, will be syndicated by one of the 400+ news outlets that glean articles from this source.

There’s also a growing number of Facebook pages for groups that highlight the intersection between abortion and doula work.  Check them out for constant access to relevant links and updates:

Also, here’s a run-down of some past articles on full spectrum support:

Do you have anything to add to these lists?  Let us know!

4 Opportunities to Participate in Doula Research

There are four exciting opportunities to participate in research on the full spectrum & radical doula movements!  Each of these studies presents a chance to spread the word about the value of doula support throughout the whole spectrum of pregnancy outcomes.

Radical Doulas vs. Full Spectrum Doulas: What’s the Difference?

It’s a brave new doula world, a place where we’re using newfangled terminology like ‘radical doula’ and ‘full spectrum doula’ somewhat interchangeably.  But what do these terms mean, and what’s the difference between the two?

Although there’s often a large overlap between these two identifying terms, I’d argue that they have distinctly different meanings and implications.

For me, being a radical doula is an identity, a way that my worldview and belief system manifest in my work.  My doula work is just one of the ways that I engage in my beliefs on a daily basis–beliefs in community participation, personal autonomy, advocacy, and critical analysis.  As a radical doula, I acknowledge that factors such as racial disparities, economic marginalization, and socio-political power dynamics can often deeply impact pregnancy experiences and outcomes.  And all too often, these and other challenges are glossed over, unseen through the narrow, mainstream lens.

In contrast, I see full spectrum doula work as a role, a skill set, a practice.  As a full spectrum doula, I’m prepared to offer my support and doula skills to anyone facing any pregnancy outcome, whether that’s birth, adoption, miscarriage, stillbirth, or abortion.  And I constantly seek out trainings, materials, and experiences that equip me with an understanding of how to do so.

The overlap between the ideology of the radical doula, and the practice of the full spectrum doula, lies in one belief at the core of each of these identities: a commitment to abortion access and reproductive justice. Whether you love or hate the word ‘radical’–whether you’re involved in a doula program at an abortion clinic, or live hours away from the nearest training opportunity–whether you’re watching this movement grow from afar, or are at the front lines–what unites radical doulas and full spectrum doulas is this pro-choice commitment, at the very least.

And what better place to intersect?  Abortion, an issue that is so often divisive and polarizing, is instead bringing together the populations of radical doulas and full spectrum doulas into a community that’s growing more cohesive and connected with each day.  We’re building a movement, strengthening our voices, and solidifying a vision of true reproductive justice…all by supporting one pregnancy at a time, whatever the outcome.

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These views are based on my own opinions and on the preliminary findings from my ethnographic research of full spectrum and radical doulas.

Robbie Davis-Floyd on Abortion Doulas

My recent interview with reproductive anthropologist Robbie Davis-Floyd appears in the current issue of SQUAT Birth Journal, and in it Robbie addresses the intersections of abortion, midwifery and doula work.

For pro-choice doulas and doulas doing abortion support work, hearing these words of encouragement from such a prominent figure in the birth world is validating in a way that is so needed.

Here’s an excerpt from the interview:

One of the features of the radical midwifery and doula movements is a tendency toward supporting the full spectrum of women’s choices in pregnancy, including abortion.  Do you think there’s a possibility that midwifery care will ever be able to encompass this full spectrum of choice?

The full spectrum of choice that I believe midwives should support ranges from home birth, to birth centers, to humanistic/holistic hospital birth, even to assisting at cesareans to provide continuity of care for the mother. And I believe that abortion is a woman’s right. It would probably be better for women if midwives were their abortion providers, but I have no information about whether or not midwives are willing to take on that task.

What are your thoughts on the growing segment of the doula community that is applying the doula model of care to the abortion experience?  Do you think the skill set of the doula can naturally transfer over to the abortion context in a useful way?

I think it’s marvelous! Every woman should have a doula at her birth, and at her abortion if that’s what she chooses. Abortions can be very traumatic for women—they would benefit tremendously by having a supportive doula at their sides.  They need both physical support—touch, caring, massage—and emotional support, which doulas are well-trained to provide.