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Critical Summary on Birthing Liberation: How Reproductive Justice Can Set Us Free by Sabia Wade, The Black Doula

Written by: Betel S. Tesfamariam (she/her)


Sabia Wade (she/they), The Black Doula (@sabiawade) on Instagram, is one of my teachers in the Birthing Advocacy Doula Training (BADT) full-spectrum doula training course. BADT is an organization founded by Sabia Wade. She also founded For the Village, “the only community doula organization centering Black birthing people and their children in San Diego” (xxiii). Wade teaches us about a wholly embodied birthing liberation that begins with healing and liberating ourselves. 

Pictured: Sabia Wade


Introduction & Chapter 1: “we must all become liberated individuals” (p. xxvi)

Wade introduces her journey as a full-spectrum doula by describing her work at the Prison Birth Project. Her experience supporting birthing people who were confronted with direct surveillance, authoritative control, and intrusive involvement of the punitive carceral state inform her analysis of the interlocking systems of domination, namely patriarchy, homophobia, transphobia, racism, sexism, ableism, and capitalism. These interlocking systems of domination continue to wreak havoc on the lives and birthing experiences of Black people. Wade explains how statistics in the U.S. on high rates of Black perinatal mortality help identify gaps within the current system and reveal the underlying anti-black logics which began during the legalization of chattel slavery in North America. These same anti-black logics continue to structure the healthcare system today. Wade tells us we must honor that these statistics are reflective of true, real, traumatic occurrences that Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) disproportionately experience in healthcare as compared to non-BIPOC people. While there is minimal research in Canada documenting the health disparities in birthing outcomes and perinatal care affecting Black people, based on the lived experiences of Black people in birthing and receiving reproductive healthcare, anti-black racism is as insidious and determines the quality of medical care Black people receive or are denied here, as is the case in the U.S. or Brazil for example. 

Chapter 2: “I’m a firm believer in understanding history before moving forward” (p. 20)

Chapter 3: “…there is no disconnection available” (p.43)

Chapter 4: “Collective liberation requires us to decenter ourselves and push forward with the mission of equity for all” (p. 80)

Chapter 5: “Moving through trauma will take effort, focus, and intention” (p. 121)

Chapter 6: “…we make more change collectively than we do individually” (p. 41)

Chapter 7: “The individual leads to the collective” (p. 152)

Chapter 8: “It is time to return to birth in order to build the future of birth” (p. 193)



Betel S. Tesfamariam (she/her)

Multidisciplinary researcher, educator, co-creator of @remediesofloveherbals, creative, & full-spectrum doula in training with BADT

MA, Gender, Feminist, & Women’s Studies

BA, Environmental Justice & Africana/Black Studies

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