A Doula for Every Birth—and Every Abortion
In New York City, a team of “radical doulas” believes every pregnant woman deserves someone at her side.
Illustrations by Cathryn Virginia
Nine years ago, Mary Mahoney showed up for her doula training class eager and hopeful. A young reproductive justice researcher, she spent her days scrutinizing statistics about pregnancy and birth in New York City. Becoming a doula – a non-medical caregiver who supports clients before, during and after childbirth – would allow her to see things firsthand. But as the day unfolded, Mahoney noticed the training’s narrow focus. Everything was geared toward serving clients who would likely be white, affluent, cisgender women. No one mentioned race or class. And no one brought up the many pregnancy experiences that do not end in live birth.
“I do a lot of work around abortion,” she announced at one point. The room went silent.
Mahoney left discouraged, but not defeated. Soon after, with Lauren Mitchell and Miriam Zoila Pérez, she founded the Doula Project, the first organization in the country to offer volunteer doula support for abortions. As part of a rising…
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