Thursday, February 16, 2012

The World of the "Abortion Doula"

This gruesome little article goes straight into the realm of inadvertent honesty in its subtitle, saying, "Pro-Choice Activists Eschew Policy Debates for Flesh and Blood Activism."

The flesh and blood, of course, belongs to the children that these "doulas" are assisting into the specimen container in ragged shreds, but this fact seems to be lost on the author.

The most disturbing aspect of the whole thing is the degree to which these activists have embraced abortion not so much for as in spite of the women that they purport to help.

I find the whole thing hard to stomach, starting with the photo of the two smiling young "doulas" who find it just as satisfying to help a demoralized woman kill a baby as to help a joyous woman deliver a baby. Also creepy is the fact that the "doula" class reportedly includes some pediatricians. It's like finding out that a dogfighting ring is run by a bunch of volunteers from the Humane Society.

The world of the "abortion doula" is one where abortion is embraced and women are trivialized.
“We often ask patients their star-sign,” Ms. Mitchell told The Observer in an interview after the class let out. .... “When a patient is nervous or anxious, telling them a little about their sign can take their mind off the abortion—everyone loves to hear about themselves.”
The focus on small talk, on keeping the woman's mind off of what's happening, speaks of a profound disrespect. The woman isn't getting a splinter removed. She's doing something that is ending a life and changing forever who she is. But it's so much easier to just tell her her horoscope. (If I were clever enough, I'd note something pithy about the "horrorscope" through which the woman will view this day for the rest of her life.)

"Doula" Rebecca Stanton recalled parents who brought their 13-year-old honor-student daughter to New York for a 21-week abortion.
“The girl was very quiet,” Ms. Stanton recalled. “I am not even sure if she knew she was having sex. She was overweight, and her family didn’t find out she was pregnant until she was 21 weeks along.”
I'm not noticing any concern about whether or not the girl was the one choosing this abortion, or whether her parents had chosen it so they didn't have to be embarrassed that the subject of their bumper sticker had gotten knocked up. There is no concern on the "doula's" part about why the girl was so quiet or why she had kept her pregnancy a secret. Was it to prevent being dragged off for an abortion? The "doula" neither knows nor cares.

Equally absent is any concern about how a 13-year-old girl ended up pregnant. Was the baby's father a peer? A teacher or coach or other adult that needed to be arrested? Or -- God forbid -- the father who was so eager to sweep his grandchild away? Again, the "doula" neither knows nor cares.
During the doula training, one instructor explained how to help clients who don’t speak English. She sucked in her breath, and moved her arms encouragingly. “I try to mime how to breathe, like an owl: ‘who, who.’ At first they think you are crazy, but they realize you are trying to help.
I'm not reading any concern about whether or not these women have gotten counseling and informed consent in a language they understand. If they need to have a total stranger as a hand-holder, odds are they don't have anybody who has been translating for them except perhaps a clinic worker, who has a vested financial interest in the situation. Just like the quiet 13-year-old honor student, their actual hopes and dreams and beliefs aren't relevant. The abortion itself, not the woman, is the focus.

It gets worse:
Ms. Mitchell estimated that doulas see about 15–20 later term abortions a week, and about 75 first trimesters. .... She handed out flash cards with real-life situations. The first read: “A woman tells you, ‘I just killed my baby.’ How do you respond?” The students broke into groups to discuss the question. Many came up with a similar answer: Explain that the procedure is legal because the fetus is not a baby, it just has the potential to be one.
In other words, totally stomp down the woman's own feelings, beliefs, and thoughts and replace them with your own. Is anybody seeing a pattern here?
In an interview with The Observer, [Mitchell] joked that she sometimes wants to automatically reject the abortion doula applications of pro-choice activists, because it’s so hard to go from pro-choice rhetoric to supporting real people who don’t necessarily find their abortions empowering.
And rather than try to understand where those women are coming from -- and daring to question whether or not this non-empowering abortion really is what the women wants or needs -- the "abortion doula" movement seeks to train its members in how to ignore the issue, just as it needs for them to ignore what's coming up next.
Those pictures pro-life activists flash are real,” Ms. Mahoney said. “That is what a fetus looks like when its head is crushed. When you see the procedure, you must decide, as a pro-choice person, whether you are in or out.”
So Mahoney is admitting that being close to abortion -- to women who cry that they've killed their babies, to women who feel trapped and not empowered, to the crushed remains of what you've just insisted isn't a baby but sure looks like one -- isn't very conducive to being cheerfully pro-choice. (She's not the only one to observe this.)

The very next sentence raises the creepy quotient:
She’s thought about it a lot. “I have never been more in,” she said.
Seeing how un-empowered the women are, listening to them cry about their dead children, and seeing the mangled bodies makes Mahoney even more devoted to the cause. Which raises the question, "Why?" It's a question she doesn't really answer. What is it about abortion that so engages her?

The "abortion doulas" -- who, let me reiterate, immerse themselves in abortion to the point where they deliberately teach themselves to tune out not only the destruction of the baby, but the qualms and despair and anguish of the mother -- then turn the discussion to strategies for "access" if abortions become criminalized or harder to arrange outside New York. One plan is to use insurance fraud.
At many public hospitals in New York, abortion is on a sliding-fee scale like any other surgery. With proof of residence and a low income, a patient can be treated for around $150, payable over time. “Find a friend in New York City, get an address and mail yourself something, go to New York the next week and get your abortion fee scaled,” one pro-choice advocate suggested.
Good luck to the taxpayers of New York trying to collect the $150 "payable over time" from somebody who has provided a false address and lives out-of-state.

These "abortion doulas" have entered a state of thrall, where abortion is the master, they are the servants, and the women they're ostensibly there to help are merely the means by which the master is served.

And even if you consider yourself pro-choice, that ought to be a pretty disturbing thing.


Emily Cook said...

Oh Christina.. this is so disturbing and sad.

How do you stand it, to immerse yourself in this world all the time?

But I am glad you are. Praying for you today...

Christina Dunigan said...

Prayers are always appreciate, Emily. Pray that God bring these words before the right people and open their heats to His message of hope and life and love.

Jack Oblonski said...

How can someone do that all the time. Watching murder occur on a regular basis ... sick! I am a nurse and the thought of that makes me sick.

NotAnotherMom said...

I find this article to be extremely biased towards pro-life. You make some valid points, however it is apparent that the author is entirely against abortion.
I'm not saying I am pro-choice or pro-life, however I will note that there is more to this story than what is being told.
A so called "abortion doula" isn't there because they enjoy abortions. A doula is about helping to mother the mother - in any way possible. They're there to make sure that the woman is making informed choices, with informed consent - that means that she knows the benefits, risks and alternatives to what she is about to do. They're helping a woman cope emotionally with something that is very traumatic.
In a society that is very focused on the infants well being during pregnancy, birth and postbirth, there needs to be someone who is focused on the woman carrying the child - that is the role of a Doula.
While it's equally important to consider the child, it's also fair to say that unless you are in the situation, you don't KNOW the options. For some women, abortion is the only option - if they don't have a safe home to go to, if they are in an abusive situation, if it is a child from a rape or abuse.. the decision to terminate is very tough, but ultimately sometimes it is the only answer for some women. Adoption is great - but only if you are physically able to carry a child to term which some women are not for various reasons.

Christina Dunigan said...

NotAnotherMom, I'm actually wondering if you really read the article. My complaint was that the "doulas" don't seem to be there to actually help the mother; they're just there to facilitate an abortion, to wallow in it, to immerse themselves in the drama of it all. The women's actual situations are just part of the atmosphere rather than something to try to help her to resolve.

Wouldn't it be better to provide the woman with a safe place to go? To help her escape the abusive situation? To help her to figure out her finances so that she isn't driven to lie there sobbing that she killed her baby, while the "doula" exhauts in having "helped" her by holding her hand and telling her a horoscope?

The Winding Ascent said...

Christina and Not Another Mom, I just read the article this post is based on and I agree with Christina. The woman who felt guilty about having such a roomy apartment in Harlem who decided to use her spare bedroom to house women coming to NYC for abortions might also have provided a place for an unwed mother to stay once kicked out of her house or on the street for whatever reason. The real bias is present in the original article, not Christina's. The New Radicals are biased toward abortion rights. One reason for this is their staunch belief in population control. These sociologists (my sister one of the most prominent among them) are concerned about overpopulation and this general idea that every child should be conceived when the timing is perfect. There are millions of women getting pregnant every day who find it an unexpected blessing and adjust their lives accordingly -- not just upper and middle class women but poor women and teen moms as well. So really, we could ALL stand to back up and view the situation from a more big picture view. It really comes down to valuing life or not valuing it. Considering pregnancy just a scientific process within the human body or the amazing transmission of life to life. Ignoring the truth as spoken by scientists, geneticists, doctors, etc doesn't make it less true. And I also disagree that abortion is EVER the only solution. The cases in which it may be medically necessary to save a woman's life are ectopic pregnancy and a couple of other rare situations, all of which constitute a very small number of abortions each year. These aren't the women being sheltered in the woman in Harlem's spare bedroom.

Deb Wallace said...

Okay, just read this story, and another that was posted as a headline on yahoo today (I had no clue there WERE "Abortion Doulas" before today.) But my humble opinion? The folks volunteering their time in this capacity are no different than those attending births, or even working in hospice situations. These doulas are not medical professionals...they're folks simply trying to provide some small measure of comfort to those suffering. While I can understand why staunch Pro-Life folks would find this work objectionable, I think it's extraordinarily wonderful when anyone spends their time trying to comfort others...for any reason. As the mother of four daughters (luckily, none of whom has ever faced an unplanned pregnancy), I can tell you that had that situation arisen, and had they made such a choice, I would be eternally grateful for anyone offering to hold their hand and whisper words of comfort and reassurance. Would the folks critical of these doulas prefer these patients be denied even a modicum of emotional if the simple act of making a decision for abortion warrants the harshest possible physical and psychological discomfort? Where is the compassion? The role of these doulas is NOT to advise these patients, nor to judge their decisions, but simply to provide comfort to women in likely desperate situations. I don't see how that act of selflessness and compassion warrants criticism, regardless of one's opinion of abortion. Just can't see it.