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Meet the Doulas: Christine Litas

Who are the doulas who volunteer with the Bay Area Doula Project?  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.  This week, meet Christine Litas.

Christine is a full-spectrum doula who trained with BADP in June of 2013. She is currently volunteering as a birth doula at San Francisco General Hospital and Homeless Prenatal Program, and doing clinical abortion support in Santa Rosa. She is also an active member of BADP’s Salon Series team and loves learning about anything health and reproductive justice related.

After being on the road for over five years, she’s happy to be settling into the bay area and grounding into doula work, although she has traveled as far as Australia to help her best friend give birth to a beautiful baby boy. She loves doula work, as it’s an amazing way to support and nurture people through their process, while empowering them and being committed to reproductive rights. On any given day, it’s not unlikely to find her riding her bike, tending to her garden, enjoying a hike, weaving a basket, fermenting just about anything, and cooking colorful meals for her friends.    


Salon Series: Abortion Story Share

Join us TONIGHT for this month's salon series, Abortion Story Share. Abortion has always been a divisive social political issue in the United States, despite the fact that 3 in 10 women* have had an abortion. Due to stigma and shame, many aren’t able to talk about their experiences or find the support they need. This salon, we will discuss the stigma surrounding abortion experiences, discuss why people keep their experiences secret from loved ones, and talk about ways to support those who want to share their experiences.

*We know that people of all gender identities have abortions, however this statistic is based on research of only cisgender women.

When: TONIGHT July 22nd 7-9p
Where: SOL: 236 23rd Ave. (between International Blvd. and East 12th Street), Oakland 
Cost: $5-$15 Suggested Donation for BADP, no one will be turned away for lack of funds

Accessibility: The space is wheelchair accessible (but the restroom is not and does not have grab bars). FYI for those who have allergies, the space is home to a sweet cat. Babes in arms are welcome. Please email salon_fund [at] bayareadoulaproject [dot] org or send us a note on Facebook if you have any questions about accessibility.

Renee Bracey Sherman is a reproductive justice and storytelling activist who shares her own abortion experience to encourage others who have had abortions to speak out and end the silence and stigma. Renee writes about abortion, reproductive justice, public policy, allyship, and the disparities facing women of color. She has been featured on BBC Radio World Newshour, EBONY, Salon, RH Reality Check, and Renee is a graduate student at Cornell University pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration, sits on the advisory board of Sea Change Program, and will join the NARAL Pro-Choice America board of directors this fall. In 2013, Renee received the Justice Award by ACCESS Women’s Health Justice for her volunteerism housing women traveling 4-5 hours for their abortions. Renee is a proud alum of the Bay Area Doula Project and served as the Communications Manager for almost two years. She's happy to be back in beautiful company with the doulas! Follow her on Twitter @rbraceysherman


Meet the Doulas: Mar Schupp

Who are the doulas who volunteer with the Bay Area Doula Project?  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.  This week, meet Mar Schupp.

Mar is a full-spectrum gender-bending boi doula! Understanding that historically, birth and abortion support are experiences often witnessed by close relatives and loved ones nearby; Mar felt called to practice this caregiving labor with special emphasis of sharing it within the marginalized communities they live, work and play with: people of color, queer, trans/gender-non-conforming and young people. For Mar, becoming a full spectrum doula is a means of directly challenging the health inequities that continue to marginalize and stigmatize communities of color and queer people. Mar approaches their doula work with the firm belief that people are entitled to feel supported in their reproductive choice options – whether that is hormone replacement therapy or ending a pregnancy. When they are not studying to become a nurse-midwife or teaching young people how to camp, Mar may be found making mischief near trees and in the mountains around the bay.


Welcome, new co-directors! 

Dear Friend,

Since BADP's inception, scores of volunteer doulas have worked tirelessly in partnership with co-directors Poonam Dreyfus-Pai, Holly Carpenter and me to co-create our fierce, committed, and compassionate community in the Bay Area. Today we are so excited to introduce the members of our community who will be joining me as Co-Directors: Amber Bell and Daina Dickman.

Amber and Daina bring with them a wealth of experience in diverse reproductive health settings and a dynamic vision for the future of BADP.  I’m so excited to work with them, and you, to continue to build upon our mission of increasing access to nonjudgmental, compassionate, and empowering doula care to individuals across the full spectrum of their reproductive experiences.

Check out their bios below, and please say hi and welcome them to their new role the next time you see them out and about!

~ Liz Donnelly, BADP Co-Director


Amber Bell is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer of Guatemala, where she spent two years working in public health. While there she also established and coordinated local women's groups with a focus on reproductive health. She also spent time working as the HIV/AIDS regional representative to volunteers providing support in advanced HIV education and prevention activities. She currently works as a perinatal health educator at Petaluma Health Center and as a full spectrum doula. Amber also works as a Sex Ed teacher for middle-schoolers at her local Unitarian Universalist church in Oakland.

On how full-spectrum work resonates with her, Amber says, "When I started working as a birth doula in the Bay Area, I felt like there was a huge piece of the puzzle missing. I loved being able to support women through their births, but I knew there were so many more important parts to an individual's reproductive experiences. Full-spectrum work excites me because it fills in those missing pieces, it recognizes and values the wide range of experiences an individual can go through."

Daina Dickman is a librarian and reproductive justice activist. In addition to her work on Bay Area Doula Project's training team, she volunteers as a practical support volunteer with ACCESS, an HIV/STD Test Counselor for Magnet, a clinic of San Francisco AIDS Foundation, and is an organizer of Bay Area Ladyfest, a performance and activism festival for women, trans, and gender non-comforming people.  She has a BA in Political Science and English from U.C. Berkeley, an MA in Comparative Studies from Ohio State University, and a MLIS from San Jose State University. Originally from rural Ohio, Daina began her reproductive justice work on the Central Ohio Abortion Access hotline.  She has called the Bay Area home since 1999 and has volunteered in the past for Women's Community Clinic and Lyon-Martin Health Services.  She is passionate about enabling access to culturally competent and non-judgmental healthcare for all people.  In her free time she enjoys reading, riding her bike, travelling, and playing pinball.

On how she would like to see BADP grow in the coming year, Daina says, "I am excited to see Bay Area Doula Project expand our partnership with ACCESS to provide seamless care for people choosing abortions. I believe it will increase the number of clients BADP provides services for and help more people learn about full-spectrum doulas.  I am also invested in making Bay Area Doula Project trainings and events more parent-friendly by creating a plan to provide childcare to those who need it." 

Both Daina and Amber voiced love for the community that BADP has been building, both within the organization and through its training and Salon Series work. Building community across the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements, and across different doula and pregnancy support organization, remains a priority for both of them. We hope you are as excited as we are about their talent, vision, and commitment! Welcome Amber and Daina! 


We Will Not Yield: A Texan's Reflections on HB2, the Filibuster, and the Unruly Mob

By Jana Thompson

A year ago today, I was ill and in bed with a fever.  I checked my Facebook account randomly and noticed that my best friend's mom was at the Texas State Capitol for Senator Davis' filibuster on House Bill 2.  Afterwards, I checked Twitter and realized it was more than just a few protestors - the gallery was filled with what would later be termed the Unruly Mob.  As someone who grew up in Texas, and in Austin specifically, I was used to the apathy with which most people their view politics.  Seeing such an action in the heart of Texas politics surprised me beyond words.  After the defunding of Planned Parenthood, and many other policies that ate away at reproductive health care access in the state, people were finally standing up and taking notice.

Throughout the day and evening, I was riveted as I watched my social media feeds on live updates from the Texas State Senate gallery as the Republican legislators, who had dreamed up the religion-fueled and blissfully ignorant HB2, took every opportunity and eventually succeeded in shutting down Senator Davis' filibuster.  I looked on as the Unruly Mob shouted down to try to shut down the vote, and then watched again as the Republicans attempted to certify an illegal post-midnightvote on the bill.

My thoughts afterwards - the Republican legislators obviously haven't kept up with the science and technology of the day.  The fact that they would try to pass such an obviously bad bill that goes against recommendations from physicians and medical research literature proved that.  The fact that they tried to pass a bill after the deadline, without realizing how many people were watching them on the internet, showed how ignorant they were that the world was watching and that the old Southern good ol' boy ways wouldn't work in the same way anymore.

Other thoughts - how pleased I was at hearing Cecile Richards lead the mob in a rendition of 'The Eyes of Texas'.  After having heard that most Texan of songs my entire life, having sang it at my own graduation from university,  I had never been really moved by it.  But watching that rendition, after such a night, brought tears to my eyes.