When I saw a training to become an abortion doula through SPIRAL Collective, I mostly went out of curiosity. A doula is a companion that provides information, physical, and emotional support. Doulas have been around since ancient times across all cultures. There are birth doulas, postpartum doulas, abortion doulas, even death doulas. They manifest as our grandmothers, aunties, and sisters—wizened from knowledge and experience.
The abortion doula training introduced me to reproductive justice—the idea that all people should have the means necessary to access the information, resources, and emotional, physical, social, and political support they need, to be who they are and create and sustain the types of families and communities they desire.
The values my parents rooted in me— honoring and trusting my agency, recognizing the abundance within community, and a responsibility to care for others—were made real in the framework of reproductive justice.
My mother and father (my father has since passed) are immigrants and political refugees. They came to America after the Secret War. My mother tells the story of how my grandmother came here with a jar of Vaseline (she was obsessed, apparently) and crossed mountains, jungles, and rivers with it.
As a child, I lived in a multigenerational home with open doors. Aunties, uncles, and cousins would constantly float in and out, following us from house to house. Childcare was shared among the elders, clothes passed from cousin to cousin. Everyone was creative and knew how to make a dollar stretch. They didn’t have much in America, but whatever they had, they collectively decided it was enough to share.
As the eldest of four, it was natural for me to care for others. Babysitting duties came early and I got to see the magic and wonder of children as I cared for my siblings. It was such a treat, seeing them grow into themselves. This continued when I took up nannying, retreating into care work when working in higher education became unhealthy and unsustainable. Caring for children made me see the deep reserves of patience, love, and tenderness I have— and served as a gentle reminder to extend that approach and energy for adults too.
I bring that patience, love, and tenderness into my work as an abortion doula.
Abortion is a normal part of health care and an experience that 1 in 4 women have and people across the gender spectrum can experience. Every experience I’ve had with someone seeking an abortion is different. As an abortion doula, my role is to honor their decisions, and to provide non-judgmental support in a moment that is deeply personal.
I have supported people having an abortion in the safety and privacy of their own homes, because they didn’t believe their needs would be met, their agency honored, or their decision respected and valued at their doctor’s office.
I have spoken to people who felt their decisions and experiences were diminished because their partners, family, or support systems were unable to reconcile their personal feelings and engaged in harmful, negative behavior.
I have stood outside clinics where intense and hurtful assumptions were made by invasive anti-abortion protestors. For those seeking an abortion for whom the decision was painful, this can result in tears and frustration. For those seeking an abortion and the decision was joyful, this can put a stain on what should feel like a liberating experience. For those seeking an abortion and whose feelings are intricate, it adds a layer of complexity to an already complicated experience.
People will have abortions, as they have for centuries, no matter what. As an abortion doula, I want people in our state to be trusted, honored, and valued in that decision.
The recent abortion bans in Missouri, Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio won’t stop the work of reproductive justice. Minnesota is abundant—we care about each other and we see the deep connections we have to each other.
Care is powerful when we make it alive in tangible ways. This means paying for someone’s abortion, becoming a clinic escort or abortion doula, listening to and trusting someone’s abortion story and working to unravel our own personal narratives around abortion.
I’m proud of the care I provide as an abortion doula. It honors the values imparted on me by my parents in ways I could never imagine. A world where people can have an abortion with no restrictions, where their decisions are trusted, valued, and respected, is a more liberated and just world.
The reproductive justice movement needs you to help win reproductive freedom for all of us.
- What does reproductive freedom mean to you? Share with us your story about why reproductive freedom and/or abortion access are personal to you.
- Talk with an TakeAction Minnesota organizer about how you can mobilize for a health care system that supports all bodies, all decisions. E-mail Sabrina Mauritz at email@example.com for more information.