What is an abortion doula?
In the US, 1 in 4 people who can become pregnant will have an abortion by age 45.
Take a moment to sit with that. What kinds of people do you envision when you read that statistic? What kind of assumptions do you make? Do the people you imagine look like you? Do they speak your language? Do they have the same socioeconomic status? Did you think of your friends, your coworker, your mother, your fellow churchgoer?
All kinds of people have abortions, and many are surprised to find that faith-centered, conservative folks will have abortions at about the same rate as anyone else. (Acclaimed author of Spark of Life, Jodi Picoult, found every abortion provider she interviewed for her book research had at least one patient who was also a protester, picketing outside that very clinic, before and after their own abortion.)
If you know four people capable of pregnancy, you know at least one person who has had or will have an abortion. Maybe it was you. Did you feel supported, held and cared for during your experience? Did you have unbiased, scientifically sound information available to you?
If you know someone who revealed their own abortion to you, did you know how to be supportive? Did you have opinions that kept you from being present in that conversation?
Because of the stigma we have around abortion in the US, many people who choose abortions do so in secrecy and, therefore, are alone to learn what to expect and manage the process on their own. This leaves them vulnerable to false information, abuse from healthcare workers who find out about the abortion, or judgment and isolation from the people they need the most care from.
An abortion doula is someone who can provide non-medical support for someone seeking an abortion. Sometimes this looks like simply giving a ride to and from a clinic or airport. Sometimes it's holding a client's hand during a procedure, helping them advocate for themselves, and caring for them in a recovery room. It might include helping them around the house once they're home, monitoring physical symptoms, cleaning or cooking for them or helping them care for their children. Some clients find comfort in learning to create a ritual to help them process the experience.
Colorado Doula Project is a non-profit in Denver, Colorado. We provide support for people who are seeking abortions. We also provide items such as contraceptives, pregnancy tests, and morning after pills to those in need. Whether someone is looking for information on where to safely and legally have an abortion, what to expect, needs funding help, transportation or emotional support, we provide it.
We're best known for providing abortion doula trainings. Folks who attend our trainings will learn how to provide compassionate care and physical support to clients and understand the process of abortion in the US. Some attend because they want to work in a clinic as a volunteer; some simply want to be able to support a loved one who considers an abortion. Some attendees have had abortions of their own and want to help others have a more supported experience.
We are unapologetically anti-racism and trans-affirming, and believe every person seeking an abortion deserves compassionate care.
If you're interested in learning more about Colorado Doula Project and the services we provide or becoming an abortion doula, check us out at www.ColoradoDoulaProject.org.
Erika is a Brazilian jiu jitsu blue belt training in Denver, Colorado. A former health, sex and relationship coach, she now focuses on sexuality education for youth and reproductive justice in metro Denver. When she's not teaching or training, she's reading as many books as possible, practicing yoga, dancing, cooking or repping GRRRL Clothing.