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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.


BADP Co-Director, Poonam Dreyfus-Pai, Bids Farewell 

Dear Friend,
I hope this message finds you well, and that you're enjoying your summer!
It’s with a bittersweet feeling that I am writing to you today; after two and half years,  I will be stepping down from the position of Bay Area Doula Project co-director on June 30th. When I moved to the Bay Area in the summer of 2011, I was fresh out of a volunteer stint with the Doula Project in New York, where I’d provided abortion doula support for 2 years. I was excited about the prospect of continuing that work here, and finding ways to connect to the larger full-spectrum and reproductive health, rights, and justice communities here. Little did I know that not only would I connect to these individuals and organizations, but that I would truly find a home among them. 

The leaders of the Bay Area Doula Project welcomed me, in typical doula fashion, with warm and open arms. They connected me to a growing group of brilliant and compassionate people who were eager to support folks through the range of pregnancy experiences. In early 2012, when I took on the position of co-director, I had no idea what shape BADP would take, or what role we would fill in the larger movement, but I knew that the energy and commitment of our volunteers would ensure that the organization would not only grow, but thrive. 

Today, BADP is known for our work to provide both in-clinic and at-home support for people having abortions throughout the greater Bay Area. We are known for our collaborative partnership with ACCESS Women’s Health Justice, through which we have been able to meet pregnant people where they are, and provide them with comprehensive, practical support. We are known for our holistic, justice-oriented abortion doula trainings, which provide people with the tools and skills to support others through abortions. We are known for our engaging and interactive Salon Series events, in which we facilitate monthly dialogues about midwifery, full-spectrum work, sex and sexual health, reproductive health policy, and reproductive justice alongside leaders in these fields. We are known for our dynamic social media presence, which allows us to contribute to and participate in important conversations about reproductive health, rights, and justice.  And we are known for the bridges we have built, across states, with other grassroots organizations and full-spectrum groups who are committed to reproductive justice. In true full-spectrum spirit, we work to break down silos and stigma by fostering compassionate connection. 

I am so grateful for the opportunities that BADP has given me to participate in this work. And I have always believed that good leadership means making room for new leadership, and creating multiple opportunities for people to continue learning, growing, and leading. So today, I am not only talking the talk, but walking the walk -- it is time for BADP to experience new and inspired leadership, and for me to move on to other work. I will continue to be a fervent supporter of BADP, and hope to remain connected to this work through other venues. And on July 1st, when we formally introduce our new co-directors Amber Bell and Daina Dickman, who will lead alongside current co-director Liz Donnelly, I hope you will join me in congratulating them, and wishing them well as they carry out their innovative and inspiring visions for BADP’s future.  

Thank you to all of you for your support of me and of BADP. I know that our paths will continue to cross, so I look forward to seeing and working with you soon! 

With love and gratitude, 
Poonam Dreyfus-Pai

P.S. We hope that you'll join us for our June Salon Series, Racism & Disparities in Reproductive Care on Tuesday, June 24th from 7-9PM! Click here to RSVP

June Salon Series: Racism & Disparities in Reproductive Care

Join us for June's Salon Series as both Laura Marina Perez, CPM, LM and Jyesha Wren, current Nurse Midwifery student at UCSF, discuss race, inclusion and health disparities in reproductive care. 

                                            Racism & Disparities in Reproductive Care

     When: Tuesday, June 24th from 7PM to 9PM 
     Location: 32 Langton St. SF, CA 94103
     Just three blocks from Civic Center BART!
     Cost: Free $5-$15 suggested donation for BADP, no one will be turned            away for lack of funds. As always, light refreshments will be served. 
     Accessibility: The space is wheelchair accessible (but the restroom does        not have grab bars). 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.
Laura will discuss the history of the reproductive justice movement as well as the rebirth of the home birth movement and their relationship to racism in and outside of the United States. She will also give her assessment of the current state of racism within the greater midwifery community and within midwifery education for those studying to offer midwifery services outside of a hospital setting.
Jyesha will talk about race, disparities, diversity, and inclusion in the American College of Nurse Midwives (ACNM). ACNM is just beginning to take the need for diversification seriously, and is potentially at a turning point in its history. They have created a Diversity & Inclusion Task Force to come up with a strategic plan to address ACNM's lack of diversity. This is important because through its large influence as a professional organization, ACNM has the power to diversify incoming classes of nurse midwifery students, thus diversifying the profession, and the power to better equip its members to address disparities in birth outcomes and care for our diverse communities.

About the speakers:
Laura Marina Perez  
Laura Marina Perez, CPM, LM is thrilled to be a home birth midwife based in San Francisco with her practice Espiritu Midwifery. She is also part of the core collective of Bay Area Midwifery: A Community Wellness and Birth Center located in Oakland. Laura has worked in the field of women's reproductive health since she was a teenager. She is a co-founder of Exhale, the national, multilingual, free and confidential after abortion counseling talkline and she is also a regional representative for CAM, the California Association of Midwives. Laura is studying to be a curandera and she happens to currently be the only Latina home birth midwife (LM) living in San Francisco.
Jyesha Wren
Jyesha Wren is currently a Nurse Midwifery student at the University of California, San Francisco. She comes to midwifery with a BA in Sociology and Global Information & Social Enterprise Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her studies there focused on midwifery, the intersections of race, class, and gender disparities in birth outcomes, and movement building for reproductive justice. 

"I'm So Happy"

By: Vanessa Norton, BADP Volunteer

"I'm so happy."

These are the first words Q said to me yesterday, after having an abortion. I know this is not the only response--and I heard others while I was there--but the person I supported yesterday at the Women's Options Center at SFGH was no less than gleeful.

I'd volunteered through ACCESS to provide ride support to Q, a young woman in East Oakland. She was particularly stressed because she was hiding her pregnancy from her family and her boss was acting abusive toward her, and threatening to take away her hours for requesting the day off. We became friendly very quickly. I agreed to stay with her at the clinic during her abortion. 

At the Women's Options Center, Q asked staff if I could be with her during her abortion, and after some time, I was admitted. There were four women--the doctor, nurse, counselor and myself. As luck would have it, the counselor was a friend of mine. The counselor asked Q whether she wanted narration (she didn't) and knew exactly what to explain and how to do so. She helped her relax her lower half and I helped her feel held. I stroked her hair, held her hand, and kept her breathing with me and told her how good she was doing. The nurse and doctor spoke in soft tones as they worked. Q kept thanking me and looking at me with the kind of loving openness you don't see very often. OK, she had some anesthesia, but it felt real. She kept saying, "wow, you guys are so nice." 

Abortion doesn't have to suck. It can be like this. 

It is enough to make that choice; the rest should be done with what I'm going to call human love.

It exists in everyone, but good working and living conditions are needed to optimize it. We are privileged in the Bay Area to have clinics like the Women's Options Center, where the staff seems genuinely well-taken care of and committed and fabulous, where the doctor was not rushing out the door to fly to another state and where they can accept Medi-cal, and not worry about being forced out of business by laws or economics, and where volunteers can and are willing to spend the time doing this work. 

"I'm so proud of myself," Q said, when she met me back in the waiting room. "I did it."

I was elated to witness her empowerment. And, even in its glow, we both recognized that it takes a network of people and conditions to make this happen.  

This morning, Q texted me and asked how I was doing. I told her I was happy. I told her I was writing about her.