Assistance to Abortion Patients

To continue our “attitude of gratitude” this week we would like to talk about a few of the groups that go out of their way to support women who are getting abortions. First and perhaps most obviously, are the abortion providers themselves. After all they are the people getting the hate mail, being harassed, being threatened and in some cases even death. They spend their days providing women with abortion care and for that we are grateful. There are some other groups that are also pretty hands on when it comes to supporting abortion patients and we’d like to talk about some of them today.

One such group is the “Doula Project.” Based out of NYC they provide volunteer doula support to low income women. For readers who don’t know, a doula is traditionally an advocate for pregnant women in the delivery room. They are there solely to focus in caring for the patient as she gives birth in settings where the focus is usually on the baby being born. The Doula Project doulas do not only provide support to women who are giving birth, they also support women who chose to terminate their pregnancies. At most clinics, the patients are allowed to have a support person with them in the waiting room, but for insurance reasons are often left with just the doctor and nursing staff for the actual procedure. While most doctors are nurses will try to be compassionate, their main focus has to be on performing the procedure. Doulas are covered by the clinics insurance and are thus allowed in the procedure room but they are there to comfort the patient; not do the procedure. They hold the patients hand, talk to her about the weather, astrological signs, pop culture or whatever helps keep the patient calm and safe. According to their website they work with 4 clinics in the NYC area and have affiliates in Asheville, NC; Piedmont Triad, NC; and Seattle, Washington. They also offer training for clinics, activists, hospitals and other organizations who wish to incorporate doula care into their services.

Another group that provides hands on care in the NYC area is the Haven Coalition. A group of women who volunteer room in their homes for women who have had to travel out of state to get to NYC for a second trimester abortion but can’t afford the cost of a hotel room. Second trimester abortions are significantly more expensive than a first trimester and even just a few days can add another couple hundred to the cost, so many women get there and find that the money they had set aside for a hotel must now go to their procedure. This is where the Haven volunteers come in providing them a place to stay for the night. That is pretty cool.

These group both focus on support during the procedure, one group I’d like to mention focuses on women after the fact. They are called Exhale and consider themselves a “pro-voice” helpline for women after they have had their procedure and who need and/or want help with their emotions relating to their abortions. Women have a huge range of feelings after an abortion from relief to grief and everything in between. Exhale supports women by saying basically that it is ok to feel what you are feeling. They are not pro-choice or pro-life they merely seek to support women in dealing with their emotions after an abortion. They also provide support to family members and friends of women who have had an abortion. There is no limit to when a patient can call Exhale, according to their website they get callers the day after their procedures, to a few months to even years after the fact. Their website also includes links to references including other helplines, websites, even books that have a pro-voice message.

These groups get hands on in providing emotional support to women who have had or are having abortions. They hold their hands, they give them a place to sleep, they tell them whatever they are feeling is ok. They help make sure these women feel truly cared for in a world that far too often tries to condemn them. We are grateful to know there are people out there who truly care about the people seeking abortions and want to ensure they are supported.

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