Autumn Reinhardt-Simpson is an author, feminist theologian and abortion doula. She moved from the US to Canada and advocates for women’s rights. She has written one book and is currently working on another on the topic of being an abortion doula. An abortion doula provides support to those who choose abortion.
You’re very passionate about reproductive justice, what have you learned through your journey of advocating for women’s rights?
“Coming to Canada provided a learning experience. I am used to living in the United States where antifeminism and anti-abortion politics are very obvious. Those things exist in Canada but I wasn’t aware of how much! There is an almost universal myth that Canada doesn’t have a culture war going on but it definitely does. For instance, anti-abortion fake clinics (known as pregnancy care centres) often contract with school systems to deliver anti-gay and misogynistic sex education. Access to abortion care is still quite spotty in Canada and Canada, like the US, has experienced its share of targeted harassment and assault of abortion care workers.
On the more personal side, I think I’ve learned how to be a better listener. Each abortion has a story. But I’ve also learned that I’m not owed any story at all! When people disclose their abortion to you, they are giving you the gift of making themselves profoundly vulnerable. I am always amazed at the courage of women and grateful that they’ve chosen me to walk with them.”
You’re releasing a second book next year, have you learned anything new since your first book that you’re applying to your second?
“My first book was on Humanist and non-theistic ceremony so there isn’t any overlap in terms of information, but I’ve definitely learned some applicable lessons on writing a book in general! I think the first book is always a learning experience. You don’t quite know what the process is and sort of just roll with it. I think I have a better idea now what to expect. I also feel like I’ve just generally grown as a writer and that my confidence is more sure. ”
What on your journey of advocacy prompted you to become an abortion doula and write a book about it?
“I don’t know exactly when I became an abortion doula. In the States my work was forming clinic escorting teams, the volunteers who walk women past protesters at abortion clinics. As more people found out what I did, they began contacting me for related reasons – could I take them to the clinic, could I find them emergency birth control, could I simply listen to their story?
I’ve been doing doula work for years and am aware of how badly it is needed. Every time I go to the clinic and see women waiting for a taxi because they have no one to take them home, no one to support them, I’m aware of how desperately we need this work. So, it seemed like it just made sense to write a sort of combined memoir/how-to which I’m combining with an online training module that will be offered in 2019 on Udemy. A lot of people don’t even know that the possibility for this work exists so I’m hoping to change that. Chances are that all of us have more than one friend who has had or will have an abortion. Knowing how to walk with her is helpful.”
Before conducting this interview I did not know an abortion doula existed. This interview has shown that as a woman I have support around me that I did not know about. I am thankful to have learned what Autumn does and appreciate her work.