Abortion Doulas Provide Much-needed Support
Posted by Micaela Elizabeth Canales
September 26, 2016
Abortion doulas! What are they, why do I love them, and where can you find one? To understand the role of an abortion doula, we should start with what a doula is generally. According to ATX Doulas, a doula service based in Austin Texas, a doula “is someone who provides continuous emotional and physical support … before, during, and after birth.” Doulas can be trained in relaxation techniques, prenatal activities to ease birth, initial breastfeeding, and can act as an advocate for their client at their birth location (be it home, hospital, or birth center). There are several organizations that offer doula training and certification, such as DONA International and Ancient Song Doula Services.
While birth doulas may be the most popular type of doula (as evidenced by google search), I am very excited by the work being done by abortion doulas! In this interview for abortiongang.org, Kathleen of the Doula Project, a group that strives to provide doula services to pregnant people in their unique choices about reproduction, explained that abortion doulas, “emotional, physical, and informational support to people choosing abortion.”
So what does doula support look like in the context of abortion? There are several well-written pieces that document that work of abortion doulas, such as this piece in the Atlantic or this piece in New York Magazine’s The Cut. In the narratives provided in these pieces, abortion doulas often enter doctor’s offices and procedure rooms with their clients, many describe holding the hand of their clients during and after their abortion procedures. This work is important because it serves to support and validate all of the emotions that can be tied to abortion for the person undergoing the procedure, whether the emotions stem from the fact that obtaining an abortion means entering a racist, sexist healthcare system, or because of subjugation to anti-choice propaganda that some states require people seeking abortions to consider before their procedures. The doula can also be there in post-procedure celebration and relief when things go as planned. Doulas are equipped to support the whole range of emotion potentially experienced!
In the increasing web of anti-choice legislation faced by individuals in states such as mine (Texas), abortion doulas are also filling a serious need –helping clients to navigate the layers of bureaucratic bullshit (including mandatory sonograms, waiting periods, and anti-choice consultations) that stand between them and their healthcare (talk about big government!). In the case of the Cicada Collective, a kickass queer and trans people of color centered organization that works to facilitate reproductive healthcare access in North Texas and beyond, they also provide transportation and lodging to persons seeking abortions –as travel time has become a heavy burden due to clinic scarcity as a result of clinic closure in our state.
There are so many great abortion doula projects around the United States providing these much needed services, and many of them hold trainings so you can become an abortion doula too! Alternatively, many of them take donations 😉 The include the Doula Project, Bay Area Doula Project, The Bridge Collective, the Open Umbrella Project and more!
Image by Michelle Tribe, via Wikimedia Commons