Like a birth doula, an abortion doula is someone who is trained to provide nonjudgmental emotional, informational, and physical support to a pregnant person. Depending on the needs of a patient, as well as the needs of a medical clinic, an abortion doula may be present before, during, and after a procedure or only for certain windows of time during a patient’s visit such as during the procedure itself. Examples of an abortion doulas role may include sitting with a patient in a waiting room to calm any nerves, holding a patients hand during a procedure, and spending time with them post-procedure to make sure all of their needs are being addressed. The overarching role of an abortion doula is to hold space for a person and give them unconditional support for the brief time they are together.
Current research has shown that abortion doulas don’t make a significant difference in patient pain levels, satisfaction rates, or procedure duration, but that women who have the support of an abortion doula are less likely to need additional clinic support. This suggests, that much like a birth doula, the most important thing an abortion doula does is provide peer and psychological support throughout the process.
Abortion doulas are still significantly less common than birth doulas. However, students at UNC are working to address this unmet need. This fall, 2019, two graduate students at UNC will be piloting an abortion doula collective at UNC Chapel Hill. This organization will be under the direction of Dr. Amy Bryant, who is a licensed abortion care provider and professor in the UNC School of Medicine as well as in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. Volunteers in this organization will undergo training and will regularly volunteer at local medical clinics. For more information please email UNCabdoulas@gmail.com
By: Lily Evans