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Bay Area Doula Project Salon Series Presents: Counseling, Compassion, and Support

Join us for another amazing Bay Area Doula Project Salon Series event!

Bay Area Doula Project Salon Series Presents: A discussion at the Salon Series
Counseling, Compassion, and Support

 Experiences and Lessons from Abortion Counseling

Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 
Time: 7:00 - 8:30pm 
Location: Million Fishes Art Collective
2501 Bryant Street, San Francisco
Bryant Street at 23rd Street
Cost: Free, $5-$15 Suggested Donation for Bay Area Doula Project, no one will be turned away for lack of funds

Check out the Facebook Event!

Guest speakers include Alissa Perrucci, Reagan Parker, Sabrina Andrus, and Steph Herold.  


Sabrina Andrus is a board member at Backline, a counseling talk line providing unconditional support for decisions, feelings, and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion, and adoption.  


Alissa Perrucci is the Counseling & Administrative Manager at the Women's Options Center at San Francisco General Hospital. She has worked in abortion counseling for many years and has also conducted research on access to abortion, abortion stigma, and the impact of parental involvement laws on access to family planning and abortion care. Her book Decision Assessment and Counseling in Abortion Care: Philosophy and Practice was published by Rowman & Littlefield in March. Previously, she worked at the California Family Health Council where she evaluated Title X family planning programs throughout California and the OPA HIV Integration Grant for Region IX. Alissa has a PhD in clinical psychology and a Master of Public Health with an emphasis on maternal and child health. 


Reagan Parker applied her degree in Anthropology from U.C. Berkeley to a career in the adventure travel industry.  After spending the last decade traveling the globe, the exposure to the lives of women worldwide made her more appreciative of American women's reproductive freedom. She volunteers on ACCESS's Healthline in order to ensure that women have the resources and support they need to obtain vital reproductive health services.   


Steph Herold is a reproductive justice activist who has worked in direct service abortion care and reproductive health advocacy. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Public Health at Columbia University, and is interning at ANSIRH this summer, researching abortion stigma.  Steph founded the website to honor the stories of abortion providers and to celebrate the legacy of Dr. George Tiller. She also founded the blog as a space for young people in the reproductive justice movement. She is a current board member of New York Abortion Access Fund and lives in Brooklyn, NY.


The evening will be filled with great conversation and great people! Light refreshments will be served. We hope to see you and your friends there!

Meet the doulas: Gwen Roberts

Who are the doulas who volunteer with the BADP?  They're amazing, diverse people, doing so much great work in the world, it's hard to believe any of them has time to volunteer with us. We've been using this space to introduce you to many of the BADP doulas.  Today, we're profiling Gwen Roberts.

Language and visual arts, parent-child bonding and community support are Gwen Roberts' major fascinations. Before moving to San Francisco in 2007, she completed a BA in literature and religion at New College of Florida. While there she volunteered with the Lullaby League volunteer corps at Cyesis, a school for teen parents. The time she spent with dozens of infants and that exposure to parenting-education planted a seed that would eventually blossom in her doula work.

In San Francisco Gwen's worked in publishing, as an assistant teacher and after-school-programmer at a K-8 school in the Mission, and as office manager for two fabulous acupuncture practices. She spent a year and a half studying qi gong, tai ji, basic medical Mandarin and natural sciences along with acupuncture and shiatsu. In 2010 she attended the homebirth of her good friend and mentor, and the course of her professional life profoundly shifted. Instead of completing acupuncture school, Gwen decided to become a doula full-time. In the two months leading up to her wedding she trained as a birth doula at Natural Resources, and she hasn’t looked back since! Gwen is a part-time nanny, novice zen practitioner and volunteer with the Long Now Foundation, an avid reader, poet and painter.


An Open Letter to Jezebel: A Developing Trend in the Trendiness of Choice?


I've spotted a trend at Jezebel, a 'gossip, culture, fashion, and sex' website 'for the contemporary woman': articles that claim that women who are exercising their right to choose their own pregnancy outcomes and discuss them afterwards are succumbing to random and arbitrary trends.  Why I Won’t Come Out About My Abortion, by Anonymous, and Homebirths Are Actually Kind of Dangerous, by Tracie Egan Morrissey, both make this claim.

Anonymous claims in her article that it is trendy to come out of your abortion closet, which sounded reminiscent of the recently written article by Morrissey who said “Now that Ricki Lake made it seem empowering and supermodels made it seem chic, home births are experiencing a spike in popularity.” 

I’d like to write a little about 'trendy' and the negative implications that it hopes to cultivate. 'Trendy' discounts all the work that reproductive justice advocates have done to create forums where women can share stories and make medical decisions based on fact rather than from places of fear. Anonymous paints a world of daunting “public pressure”, as if angry feminists are demanding abortion stories from every woman on every corner in America. In reality, these abortion stories are organically finding their way through social networking sites that have become safe havens for women to share the reality of their experiences. These are women who might have felt silenced, stigmatized, and ashamed before going public. Others do it in the face of politicians who hope to define these experiences for us through policy and legislation. 

'Trendy' discounts all the thought I put into writing my own abortion story – from wondering how my family would sit with it, to how it could affect my career. As a birth doula and childbirth educator, this "coming out" was no small matter, and I take personal offense that someone would assume I did so to be in vogue. It felt brave and vulnerable, which is not how I feel when I buy a new pair of shoes or get bangs for the first time in ten years (depending on the style). 

Morrissey tackles the subject of trendy home-birthers and flippantly claims that home birth is kind of dangerous. As I see it, this is just another attack on women's choice, but back handed and coming from our so-called allies. Homebirth is a choice and one that is normal, respected and practiced worldwide. The first thing Morrissey implies in her article is that if you seek the care of a homebirth midwife you have done so because you have watched a Ricki Lake documentary or hope to emulate some celebrity, which establishes in the reader's mind that women are impressionable, ditzy, and couldn’t possibly navigate their own reproductive outcomes without a copy of Entertainment Weekly in their hands. Her calculations to support this assertion are weak at best. She completely ignores that the study she references that compiled infant and maternal mortality rates includes unplanned homebirths, which dramatically skews outcomes. She also ignores any mention of hospital birth risks, including that two to three women die every day in childbirth in hospitals, as sited in Amnesty Internationals Report Deadly Delivery: The Maternal Health Care Crisis in the USA, and that this particularly affects poor women and women of color. 

There is a reason women are choosing telling stories and speaking out in 2012. There is a history behind our silence and we feel it in our throats. For those of us who choose to scream, we do so because we are safe to do so or we have carefully calculated the risks, or, we just have no other option. We recognize that the problem is that we still feel fear, guilt and shame around pregnancy choices, be it abortion, stillbirth, miscarriage, hospital birth or home birth. We are silenced within the hospital and out of it. That is the problem and the true trend that we must break.


Tuesday Guest Post: "Coming Out of My Closet"

Every Tuesday we will be featuring a guest post related to abortion support, reproductive justice, and other topics relevant to our mission as an organization dedicated to providing nonjudgmental, compassionate and empowering full-spectrum doula services. If you are interested in writing a post for our Tuesday series, email Kelly N. 

This week's post is another excellent piece by BADP volunteer Renee Bracey Sherman about talking about her abortion, and was originally posted on the blog at Exhale.  Read her bio and previous post here.


Coming Out of My Closet

By Renee Bracey Sherman

Originally posted at Exhale


For six years, I didn’t talk about my abortion. I sat in the closet, alone – very alone. For six years, I only knew three women who had abortions – one being a cousin of mine, yet we still didn’t talk about it. I was afraid of what people would think of me, what they would say if I talked about it, the names they would call me if I came out of the closet. For a long time, I barely admitted to myself that I had an abortion.

The first time I spoke publicly about my abortion was in Fresno, California. Previously, I’d written about my experience in a blog post and spoken about it with Exhale’s talk line counselors in training, but this was different. It was the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training’s academy for nonprofit fundraising staff. I had been attending for a few days and getting to know my peers, but not on a personal level. It wasn’t designed as a safe space for abortion stories, I was on a panel about fundraising and I was there to talk about why I am a donor to Exhale and the pro-voice movement. Fresno is a conservative agricultural city in California and I was scared. Why I give to Exhale has everything to do with my abortion experience and I couldn’t explain one without the other. I was so nervous I couldn’t breathe. I was afraid to out myself in a room of people I barely knew.

Click to read more ...


Want to be a volunteer?


Want to be a volunteer? The BADP is partnering with ACCESS to offer joint volunteer training, to be held August 4th and 5th.  Another training will be offered in October.

Whether or not you have previously training with the BADP, if you are interested in training to become a volunteer with ACCESS, then please complete and submit an application to their training. Becoming an ACCESS volunteer will allow you to become a practical support volunteer in their database, which means that people requesting doula support will be able to connect with you through ACCESS, and you will also have the opportunity to provide support in the form of transportation, funding, childcare, etc. Doing this volunteer training will also allow you to work with them as an activist or as a healthline intern, if you so choose. Please note that they only have room to accept 13 volunteers, of which 7 will be through the BADP. So if you are not chosen for this round, please apply again for their training in October!