People having abortions deserve support. Our goal is to provide professional abortion doula support to every person having an abortion in Alabama.
The Alabama Abortion Doula Initiative is the founding project of our organization. We believe this work has the capacity to shift stigma around abortion, as many people come in for their procedures full of fear, shame, and guilt over their decision. Having the support of a compassionate, unbiased support person makes a huge difference.
The impact of abortion doula support for pregnant people cannot be overstated. Doulas are able to focus solely on the mental and emotional wellbeing of the person having an abortion. They can provide a calming presence, physical touch as reassurance (if desired), help with coping techniques for discomfort, and are a listening ear for people to express whatever they are feeling before, during, and after their abortion procedure.
There are a myriad of barriers to accessing safe reproductive care in the state of Alabama. Abortion access is extremely limited, with only three clinics in the state. The social climate is hostile towards people seeking abortions, with patients often facing verbal harassment and threats as they enter and exit clinics. Patients face an overall social stigma towards abortion and may have no support for their decision.
Abortion is often a multifaceted experience for people, full of a myriad of emotions and physical sensations. Having a doula there to act as a guide through the experience can buffer from cultural stigma and shame, helping to support the process of emotionally integrating the physical and psychological shift from being pregnant to being not-pregnant.
Nationally most (if not all) in-clinic abortion doula support is volunteer which, presents many challenges such as quality of care, reliability of work force, and scalability. It also causes a discordance between the people who are able to provide doula services and the people who are receiving doula care since it prevents those who are not financially able to donate unpaid time from participation. This disproportionately affects people of color, parents, and low-income persons. Additionally, it perpetuates the trend of devaluing what has traditionally been considered "female" labor.
ACC will be creating best practices, implementing countermeasures and collecting quality metric data so that the impact of sustainable paid doula support during abortion procedures can be fully understood and implemented at other locations