Having an abortion can spur shame, guilt, confusion, loneliness, and many other intense emotions. Some people choose to hide their pregnancy along with their abortion. Some confide in one or two people, but even then, those people may not be able to be present at the time. Clinic rules, distance, emotions and lack of knowledge, can make having someone there for support through the experience difficult.
Enter: the abortion doula.
Trained professionals who offer comprehensive support to peoplethroughout the entire abortion process really do exist. But let’s take a step backward, before we get to that.
A “doula” is, by dictionary definition, a birth doula.
A birth doula offers comprehensive support to a woman before, during, and after the birth of her child. The “Doula Care Package” at the Brantford Doula Group includes emotional, physical and educational support from the first prenatal visit to ongoing support after the birth for $500. This can include forming a birth plan, helping with breastfeeding, and discussing medications.
Some organizations, like the Brantford Doula Group, are only for women who carry their babies to term.
The Doula Project, which spreads across the United States, is one of the main organizations challenging this stipulation.
This organization provides support to people who have experienced, or will soon experience, birth, fetal anomaly, stillbirth, miscarriage or abortion. The volunteer-run organization began in 2007 as focusing solely on abortions but has since broadened its scope.Since its conception, the organization has helped over ten thousand people coping with abortion or fetal loss.
Vicki Bloom is a member of The Doula Project and a practicing doula who enjoys helping with abortion just as much as birth. For early pregnancy procedures, she is with the patients for about half an hour. The clinics allow her to be present during the procedure and she also helps with immediate aftercare.
“[Abortion doulas] instantly need to build a rapport, build some compassion, build a connection to where someone has trust and will be able to accept comfort from you. And then it’s done,” Bloom said. “It’s a very unique way of relating to somebody, to be there just in the moment.”
In order to deal with the emotional intensity, Bloom listens and supports the patient at the time but then makes an effort to let the patients’ stories go.
“But they still affect me. Sometimes I wonder if a person made it okay, in their situation.”
Abortion is often discussed, especially in the media, as being a difficult decision or traumatic incident. But Bloom said that she sees people who know it is the right decision and are not suffering mentally, any more than other medical procedures.
It is no secret that some people are strongly opposed to abortion. With a quick Google search of abortion doulas, plenty of critics’ voices appear. On Babycentre, acommunity Christian forum, someone posted a link to The Doula Project’s website with the title of “**gag** abortion doula.”
UserMarken’s mommy comments: “This is so sad, and indicative of a vast moral decline in our world.” Another user, ashleykaye07, comments: “As a Doula, I do not condone with this ‘abortion cheerleader’ is doing. It’s disgraceful to the sanctity of life and the title of Doula.”
Bloom, who is open about her work, does not receive criticism or confrontation for her work but can tell that it makes some people uncomfortable to discuss, in which case she does not bring up the topic.
Abortion doulas recognize the misconception in society that women who have abortions and women who have children are independent of each other which is simply untrue. In fact, Bloom often has patients who want to talk about their children to help them through the procedure.
Abortion doula Bloom is trained to do anything she can to help each individual person, depending on what they need.
“We talk, we listen. We breathe together. We hold hands and I give massages,” she said.
“We laugh and we cry.”