Written by Kathy Thompson
A doula is a female birth attendant, who traditionally has provided non-medical support to a labouring mother. Her role has always been distinct from that of the midwife who provides medical and physical support. In recent years, however, a new role has emerged for the doula – that of assisting a woman as she has her baby deliberately killed through an abortion procedure.
Training for abortion doulas in this country began in 2018, after the passing of Queensland’s Termination of Pregnancy Act. Queensland’s premiere “reproductive rights” organisation, Children by Choice, includes the training as part of their “Regional, Rural and Remote Abortion Access program” and it is run in conjunction with the Australian Doula College.
The Australian Doula College (ADC) website features an unsettling array of Reiki experts and yoga instructors which suggests that the role of doula may have been co-opted by New Age practitioners who are perhaps more open to abortion ideology. However, a search of the ADC website reveals no mention of abortion doulas, indicating that the College may not be as proud of its association with abortion as Children by Choice would like to suggest. Certainly many of the mothers who use the services of a doula during childbirth would be shocked to learn that some doulas support women as the lives of their children are terminated.
The training only takes two days and according to Children by Choice, includes “reproductive justice, values exploration, unplanned pregnancy, abortion facts and beliefs, global and local abortion statistics and law, medical and surgical abortion procedures and access pathways, counselling skills and doula self-care.” Children by Choice now plans to expand the training so that it can be completed online.
One trainee, who had previously had an abortion herself, said that “”[Being an abortion doula is] something I might be even a little bit more excited about than birth and postpartum care.” Her comment is ghoulish to say the least.
The founder of the ADC explained that doulas help aborting mothers “ask a lot of questions, feel like they have some control and really hold the space for the experience”.
A glowing article on Australia’s first abortion doula appeared on the ABC news website. Predictably, comments from the doula mentioned the “love” shared between an abortion doula and her client, and how her patient’s life “moved forward.” No mention was made, however, of what it felt like to see a baby murdered in front of one’s eyes or of how the clients feel once the initial feeling of relief has passed and unsettling feelings of regret have begun to creep in.
The website of one private American abortion doula claims – without any scientific proof – that “Having support during your abortion means less chance of regret or depression after your pregnancy ends.” The “end of a pregnancy” in this case refers specifically to an abortion. Does the doula stop to ask herself precisely why a woman feels regret or depression after her abortion?
Abortion doulas first came on the scene in New York city in 2007, and since then the idea has spread across many western countries. Not only limited to abortion, doula services have also sprung up for patients about to be killed via assisted suicide or euthanasia.
The co-founders of the Abortion Doula Project gave some revealing remarks about why they felt doulas were necessary for aborting mothers. They could see that although activists promulgate the idea that abortion “empowers women,” most women feel a whole range of emotions, including grief and sadness. The co-founders even admit that some women are devastated by their abortion.
Interestingly, one former abortionist had a completely different perspective about this spectrum of emotion. She noted the apathy of one patient, the hostility of another and the sorrow of a third. She became pro-life when she realised that in all three cases, the baby was the innocent victim.
The baby is always the overlooked constant in the doulas’ abortion equation.
A look inside a publication from the New York – based abortion doulas helps us to see what’s going on inside the world of an abortion-minded woman and her supporters. Advice ranges from blocking out the noise of the vacuum-suction machine to avoiding looking at the ultrasound image to using New Age techniques such as guided meditation and visualisation. The booklet even suggests that a woman should “talk to herself” if there is no other way of distracting herself from what’s going on. As with so many comments ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’ there is an acknowledgement of the traumatic nature of abortion without any investigation into the causes of that trauma.
It would appear that a woman should do anything within her power to avoid acknowledging what is happening to her baby.
Studies have been conducted into the experiences of women who used the services of a doula during their abortion and the results appear to be overwhelmingly positive. It is not too difficult to realise why that is. Far from being the everyday procedure that many abortion advocates claim it to be, abortion is highly traumatic as it always involves the intentional killing of a child. Every study that shows abortion doulas are helpful underscores that reality.
One study author who is a member of the LA Abortion Doula project, believes the anonymity factor assists a mother in using an abortion doula service. She says: “There is something really special about the anonymity. I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, but I am here to support you and make an experience that can be dehumanizing more human.”
This raises the questions: Why is abortion dehumanizing? If abortion is empowering and good for women then why is anonymity helpful? Humans usually prefer anonymity when they are in a situation involving shame. Is abortion therefore shameful?
One aspect of an abortion procedure that some women find troubling is at abortion providers do not allow support people into the room while the abortion is being performed. This explains why women are often glad to have a doula as support, although this sometimes comes at a huge cost to the doulas themselves..
For example, the male abortion doula witnessed the distressing case of a patient who changed her mind partway through the procedure. He recounts how his mind was racing as he realised the woman was withdrawing her consent. Although the woman was thrashing around, the abortionist continued without speaking. In the end the doula had no choice but to calm her down and allow the abortionist to finish his work.
Another full-spectrum doula (this appears to be a euphemism for those who assist at both births and abortions) reported that many women reject her support. Although it isn’t clear whether or not her services were initially requested, she wrote that that many mothers don’t want her to hold their hands during the abortion or even to make eye contact. In contrast to the doula mentioned above, who believes her presence makes the experience more humanizing, this doula implies that some aborting mothers prefer not to connect with her, preferring to maintain that dehumanized state. It could be argued that this indicates how a woman’s self-destructive mindset – her need to punish herself for taking her child to be killed – can begin right in the procedure room.
This doula also touched on another aspect of abortion that activists tend to play down: the “burnout, distress and trauma” suffered by abortion providers. She notes that the atmosphere in an abortuary is often “cold and sterile.”
Women who present for either childbirth or abortion experience a range of emotions, some of which both groups share, such as anxiety about being in a medical setting, fear of pain or simply fear of the unknown. But in one of these cases, a mother will almost always have a positive outcome with something beautiful to show for the hard work of labour. By contrast, no matter how prestigious the doctor or how committed the patient is to abortion ideology, a mother will always exit an abortuary with an empty womb, leaving her child’s lifeless body behind.
No amount of support from a doula can change that.