My Year As an Abortion Doula

“I’ve had some loaded feelings,” Lauren Mitchell admitted of her seven-plus years working with women getting abortions. “People have heard me talk and said, ‘You don’t sound like you’re super pro-abortion.’ They just don’t expect a complex view.” Mary Mahoney, her co-founder, explains that such sentiments — a mix of sadness and frustration — are pretty normal given the work they do. “You see 500 abortions, a thousand abortions, of course you’re going to have a lot of feelings. That’s okay,” she says with a shrug. Symone New told me that, since she started working as an abortion doula with the Doula Project a few years ago, she’s changed the way she talks about abortion. “My political self is like, ‘Yes, this is liberatory; it’s so great we have this right to make this decision,’ but I’ve dropped the pro-choice, third-wave feminist diatribe when dealing with patients.” She’s seen religious patients praying on the table, pro-life women getting abortions after discovering fetal anomalies, and others who think abortion is wrong, but get one anyway. The reality of abortion isn’t as tidy as the divide surrounding it.

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