The story of the transformative Doula Project.
Mahoney and Mitchell explain how they were inspired as activists to broaden the reproductive rights movement to make sure that women seeking abortions “have continuous, nonjudgmental physical, emotional, and educational support just like people giving birth.” During the summers of 2007 and 2008, they “set out to translate the reproductive justice framework into a more direct-care-oriented approach.” They took the term “doula,” derived from the Greek name for female slave and in the past only used to describe birth attendants, and adapted it to include “abortion doulas.” The authors aimed to include not only women who suffered miscarriages, underwent deliberate abortions, or decided to become single mothers, but also “transgender and gender nonconforming people,” and they helped to bridge the gap between birth and abortion activists. As they note, those who sought their help were mainly “women of color, immigrants, and young people.” While the main focus of the book is the women they served and the causes they supported, the authors also discuss the problem of caregiver burnout in this emotionally charged field. During the past decade, doulas have been credited with helping to create a more broad-minded acceptance of their craft, and just as significantly, they have gained acceptance by the medical profession, something that was sorely lacking in previous decades. For women without support from family or friends, their presence during medical procedures can be crucial. Doulas represent their clients’ wishes when they are unable to do so—e.g., helping to make a decision about induced labor or C-section. This eye-opening book also includes a glossary that defines common terms such as “epidural” as well as less-familiar ones like “dilation and curettage” or “manual vacuum aspiration.” Throughout, the authors’ stories are vivid, absorbing, and informative.
A gripping chronicle that will be especially useful for expectant or aspirational mothers.