The Reproductive Justice and Birth Across Cultures panel was held in Chicago on August 2, 2022. The session was moderated by Andrea Serano and featured three amazing community-based doulas – Khye Tyson, Brenda Reyes, and Vanessa Lovejoy-Curon. The energy across the speakers was powerful and the stories they shared offered unique insights into what communities need and provide.
SisterSong defines Reproductive Justice as the human right to maintain personal bodily autonomy, have children, not have children, and parent the children we have in safe and sustainable communities. The speakers beautifully modeled what it meant to truly serve and center diverse communities across the reproductive health spectrum – from miscarriage and abortion support through pregnancy, birth, and postpartum recovery.
There were many gems shared during this panel and it is challenging to identify just a few.
For people who influence funding and payment structures, the panel highlighted the importance of flexible funding that allows doulas and community leaders to meet the unique needs of the people they serve. Don’t over complicate the work of doulas in the process of resourcing the work – there are people who have been providing support to birthing people for a very long time – pay for their work, don’t reshape it.
We also need to talk about power. In part, our work is to remind birthing people that they have power and what that means. At the same time, when patients and doulas use that power and lift their voices it will mess with the system! How can we shift from power over constructs to power within and among? When this is mutual between a provider and patient then good care can happen. Power also comes into play when decisions are made around investments and programs. Often the people who can allocate resources do not look like the people those resources are meant to serve. This must change if those resources are to effect change.
We should all lean into curiosity! It is interesting and beautiful to learn how other people view the world and about their traditions. Welcome birthing people and all the people around them – aunties, nieces, partners, grandmas. The circle around new parents should be wide and strong.
We encourage you to take time out of your day to watch the full video. This synopsis doesn’t do it justice! Listen and think about how you can find and support people and organizations like the ones represented here in your community.
Symposium panel blog drafted by: Sarah Verbiest and Kimarie Buggs