The Wesleyan Doula Project (WDP) is made up of a combination of Wesleyan University students and local community members with a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and beliefs. The organization consists of a student coordinator team, a cohort of approximately thirty doula volunteers, and an advisory board of faculty members, local physicians, and experienced activists from the wider community. Click here to learn more about the college doula project model.
The deep stigma attached to abortion renders it an experience that necessitates individual support, while simultaneously making it very difficult for people to access. The WDP sends volunteer doulas into two local abortion clinics twice a week, all year round. As doulas, we’re fully integrated into the clinic, working closely with staff and patients during procedures. Due to security concerns, people getting abortions aren’t allowed to bring friends or family into the procedure or recovery rooms. Doulas are able to fill that absence. As the only individuals in contact with each person before, during, and after their procedures, doulas work to make sure that patients receive attentive and compassionate care and that communication remains open between patients and their providers. We estimate that we reach around 24 people each week and 1,250 people each year.
The WDP runs a comprehensive abortion doula training for Wesleyan students and community members each year. This training includes hands-on workshops on support techniques, lectures on biological and medical processes related to pregnancy, and talks by guest speakers on reproductive health and policy. We also provide in-clinic shadowing opportunities for new doulas. We have trained approximately 80 doulas since the organization was founded in 2012. In addition to our annual training, we hold info sessions, movie screenings, and potlucks each semester for both trained doulas and the wider Wesleyan and Middletown community.
Only about nine organizations in the country currently provide organized doula services for pregnancy outcomes other than birth. While some organizations also provide birth services, others (like us) focus specifically on abortion or pregnancy loss care, filling unmet need in communities that may already have accessible birth doula care. Together, we comprise the Full Spectrum Reproductive Support Network (FSRSN), a collaborative network dedicated to coalition building across geographic borders to advance the tenets of Reproductive Justice and the accessibility of Full-Spectrum doula care throughout the country.
Members of the FSRSN: