I had fantasized in the past, years ago, about using my doula skills to support women facing crisis pregnancies as well as pleasant ones–to support women who are planning abortions, as well as women who are planning childbirth. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised (and pretty jealous) to learn of The Doula Project, a group of NYC doulas doing just that.
I recently had my first experience directly supporting someone through an abortion. The experience was at the same time physically and emotionally exhausting, and mentally engaging and uplifting. This one experience doesn’t necessarily make me an abortion doula, but it brings me closer to an idea or goal I’ve held since my doula career began. And it helped a woman facing a crisis pregnancy to feel less isolated and more supported.
I was with a dear friend, and former birth doula client, who was facing an unplanned pregnancy. She was confident in her choice, she was scared of the experience, and she was so glad to have support.
Although I wasn’t allowed in the room during her procedure, we spent days processing her options and her situation, made the 6 hour drive (each way) to the clinic and back, and waited together through the whole gamut of paperwork and testing and counseling and apprehension. We discussed what the procedure would be like, went over the facts, and processed her emotions.
When she found out she was pregnant, she knew for a fact that she was not having this baby. She is a single mother of a toddler, a survivor of domestic abuse, going through a divorce and custody battle, and has struggled with mental illness and drug abuse. But none of these factors matter, in reality. The point is, that she chose not to continue this pregnancy, and that in itself is reason enough for me to support her through the experience–as a friend, as a doula, and as an abortion doula.
Living in a conservative, rural area, I don’t often get the opportunity to support women choosing abortion. I don’t expect to be able to forge a relationship with the one local abortion provider, so I’m not sure where I plan to go with this. I just know that I want to act as a resource and a support person for women experiencing both childbirth AND abortion.