This is such an amazing idea—I’m sad that I hadn’t thought of it first. While at the From Abortion Rights to Social Justice Conference, I spoke with two awesome women who are trying to start abortion doula programs. What is an abortion doula? The idea is that a doula could provide support to women having abortions—very similar to the support that she would provide to a woman in labor. Women who have abortions in this country (all one million of them a year) many times do so in very unsupportive environments. They may not be able to tell their family members, either out of fear that they won’t be supportive or simply because they are afraid. They may not have a partner, or they may be making the decision to end the pregnancy alone. Abortion clinics are also under a lot of stress and pressure because there are so few of them, and so many women who need their services. So why shouldn’t doulas, who are trained to support women during birth, be able to provide the same support to women terminating their pregnancies?
At the Abortion Speak Out that opened the conference, women who had had abortions shared their stories—and many of them talked about the women who held their hands during the procedures. Most of them didn’t even know this person’s name, but years later still remember how much their presence helped them get through experience.
How many of you doula’s out there are with me on this one? Anybody in NYC want to try and start this (or know if it’s already happening?)? It would be pretty simple—get matched up with a woman who is going to have an abortion, and if there is time, meet with her beforehand to talk about how she is feeling and what kind of support she wants. Then go with her, talking to her through it, and holding her hand. Stay with her during the recovery, and then meet with her later to talk more and see how she is doing. Kind of the same model we use for birth doulas, a prenatal visit and a postpartum visit. I’m ready to do this now, let’s get it started.