September 2021 Power Player
At Power to Decide, we’re committed to uplifting the many individuals on the ground doing the work that matters most. Each month we highlight an individual who is championing the effort to support young people’s reproductive well-being. Check out this month's Power Player profile.
Author and Full Spectrum Doula
Carly Manes (she/her) is a white, queer, Jewish full-spectrum doula from New York. She has always believed that young people deserve transparency when it comes to information about their sexual health and bodies. Carly has been a practicing abortion doula for over six years, supporting over 2,000 individuals during their in-clinic procedures. She loves the beach, chicken tenders, and her communities. She lives with her partner Mo and their playful pitbull Mickey.
How did you get started in your field? What work have you done to ensure that all people have the information and access they need to make decisions that align with their intentions and improve their reproductive well-being?
I’ve been doing work around comprehensive sex education and abortion access since I was around 15. I started with advocacy in my local school district, lobbying to introduce comprehensive sex education to all students. Then in college I got really involved with my local Planned Parenthood chapter as well as with an organization called Advocates for Youth, which works alongside thousands of young people in the US—especially LGBTQ young people—as they advocate for policies and programs that inclusive present sexual health information to everyone. Now I’m a full spectrum doula.
My book, What’s An Abortion Anyway, is really a continuation of all that work. Its purpose is to show folks what an abortion is in a way that’s accessible and inclusive of all people’s abortion experience. It tells a story that’s medically accurate, non-judgmental, and gender inclusive in a way that helps champions introduce the topic to the young people in their lives.
What is your driving force?
The people I support drive me. I support hundreds of folks every year who are having abortions or going through the birth process. I watch the way that the medical industrial complex disproportionately affects folks of color, disabled folks, queer folks, and folks who aren’t citizens, and interacts and intervenes in their lives. Their experiences make me want to be the best advocate possible in order to give them the tools and support they need to work with a system that’s inherently racist and oppressive.
What advice would you give to someone looking to effect change in the field that you currently work in?
I would encourage them to seek out local resources first. For example, if you’re trying to get into reproductive health advocacy look for a local abortion fund, abortion collective, or service provider. Talk to people already doing the work to find the greatest need and match that with your skills.
Why should someone care about ensuring that all people—regardless of who they are or where they live—have the information and access they need to live their best life?
Depending on how someone views the world—if they’re someone who cares about personal autonomy and individuals and respecting the decisions of others… If you believe people have free agency in all areas of their life, then that must include supporting reproductive health and wellness. If you’re someone who cares about justice and liberation, reproductive justice is a core issue.
And if you care about talking to little ones, I would encourage you to talk about abortion. Anyone with little ones in their life or is a caretake of them knows that kids have lots of questions and it’s important to honor their intelligence by answering those questions as honestly and factually as possible.