As a reproductive justice activist and birth doula, I am absolutely in love with The Doula Project, an NYC-based organization that "provides free compassionate care and emotional, physical, and informational support to people across the spectrum of pregnancy."
In other words, TDP provides emotional and physical support the same way a birth doula might for a laboring woman, but in a wider range of pregnancy options including abortion, adoption, stillbirth, and miscarriage. They have a volunteer birth doula facet as well, providing lower-income women with continuous care during labor and birth.
Does this not seem completely necessary? After all, why would a woman pay for doula care if she's going to give her child up for adoption? Or birthing a stillborn child? Or having an abortion? And yet the women who undergo these events often feel alone, alienated, and completely uninformed with what is going on in their bodies. Add these feelings to the emotional toll any of these experiences can take, and well... you get it.
That's where doulas with TDP come in. Abortion and miscarriage doulas accompany women into their procedures and work with them to keep them informed about the procedure as well as helping her to remain relaxed and comfortable throughout. Adoption doulas allow women to feel good about the birth even though they will likely not receive much of the "reward" that comes with the birth of a newborn. All TDP doulas give women the option of contacting them after their procedures and births for continued emotional support, and can make appropriate referrals if necessary.
TDP operates in New York and has one affiliate organization in Atlanta. However, they are helping to start other Projects in many parts of the country. I spoke with one of their directors this morning and am beginning work to spearhead one here in the NC Triad area. But I need doulas... abortion doulas do not have to be birth doulas, and birth doulas do not have to be abortion doulas. Everyone is of course welcome to be both, but I do think birth doulas should be professionally trained by either a certifying organization, a hospital, the YWCA, or another accredited doula training organization. TDP will send someone down for a 1-2 day training once we get an interest group and connect with clinics and hospitals.
My question to you now becomes: who's in? I know more than a handful of women who have had abortions and, while they remain pro-choice and confident they made the right decision, felt completely alienated by the whole experience. After all, our clinics in NC are understaffed and serve many women. Providers are dwindling, and often abortions are performed in what feels like an assembly line just to be able to serve the number of women who need abortions.
Please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are local to the Triad area and would like to become involved. Once again, if you wish to be an abortion doula you do not have to be a trained birth doula or ever doula for a live birth. And vice versa. What we need is women committed to providing emotional support for women in whatever pregnancy option they choose.