Blog Post

Abortion Doulas Thrive Post-Roe

                                                                       Photo by Christina @ on Unsplash

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann OCDS

The overturning of Roe v. Wade this summer has barely put a dent in the abortion doula business with some organizations claiming the number of women wanting to serve as doulas has actually increased since the decision was handed down.

Doulas, which take their name from the Greek word for "caregiver," typically assist mothers-to-be by offering guided relaxation and massage during childbirth and even changing diapers and helping out with housecleaning after the new mother comes home from the hospital. However, in response to the thriving abortion-on-demand industry, a new kind of doula was created – an abortion doula – whose job is to transport mothers to abortuaries and who counsel and comfort them before and after the procedure.

In this glowing article about abortion doulas appearing on, the main role of the abortion doula is to provide “emotional support and information to women and non-binary people who are navigating abortion,” writes Harmeet Kaur.

“That could mean holding someone’s hand during the procedure or lending an ear as they talk through whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. It could mean ensuring their appointment is with a reproductive health clinic, as opposed to a crisis pregnancy center that intends to dissuade people from having abortions. Or it could mean offering tips on how to manage abortion’s physical side effects.”

Although surely unintended, Kaur’s warning about doulas who steer women away from pro-life resources only reveals the presence of the opposite bias – the intent to direct them to “pro-choice” facilities where the only choice is abortion.

With so many states banning abortion or limiting access to the procedure, doulas are also available for women who travel out-of-state for the procedure and will pick them up at the airport, arrange overnight accommodations, and even pay for their extra travel expenses.

Buried in the 15th paragraph of the article, Kaur admits that “the field isn’t licensed or regulated, meaning that the work can vary widely.” In other words, just about anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves an abortion doula. With doulas making anywhere from $200 to $800 for their “services,” this leaves women in crisis, who are often in a very emotional and vulnerable state, in a position where they can be manipulated into making decisions that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Even more disturbing is a new effort by the Manhattan-based Doula Project which is offering a 24/7 hotline of doulas to counsel women who are undergoing chemical abortions at home. With a complication rate four times higher than surgical abortion and as many as one out of every five women suffering some kind of complication from the procedure, offering a hotline manned by women with no medical training is hardly a responsible service to offer to vulnerable women.

For example, in this article, appearing on, a doula named Lauren Overman offers this advice to women who experience excessive bleeding after a chemical abortion. “You can fill up, like, super maxi pad in an hour. That's OK. Fill up one or more pad every hour for 2 to 3 hours consecutively, then that's a problem.”

The reporter, Claire Donnelly, goes on to admit the obvious – that “doulas aren’t required to have medical training, and many don’t.” The job isn’t regulated, she says, so it’s impossible to know the number of doulas currently at work in a specific area. What she doesn’t mention is that, due to no regulation of the field, it’s also impossible to determine the number of women who were injured by the poor advice of untrained doulas.

Unfortunately, this rather macabre industry has been around for at least a decade. In 2010, Women’s News ran a glowing article about how The Doula Project trains volunteers to sit with women while they have abortions.

"One woman was so nervous during her abortion that her sweat soaked through her paper gown," the article describes. "A second apologized repeatedly for not being ready to have a child. A third sobbed quietly because she was forced to terminate her pregnancy due to health complications."

Lauren Mitchell, co-founder of The Doula Project and the doula who attended these three women, says "Abortion is different for every woman, and though it can be straightforward and simple, it can in some cases be stressful. Regardless of the circumstances, we're here to help."

At the time, abortion doulas were sought after because of the shortage of doctors willing to perform abortions which resulted in “assembly line” care that left little time for counseling or comforting women in distress. Many doulas believed they were the answer to the problem.

However, they quickly learned that their services weren’t well-received on either side of the abortion debate. Pro-life advocates, such as Jill Stanek, R.N., accused them of facilitating abortion and for trying to "legitimize and de-stigmatize abortion by making it a component of maternity."

On the other hand, abortion advocates accuse them of drawing too much attention to the suffering women endure who undergo abortions, a secret many "pro-choice" fans would rather not be revealed.

"We're also getting pushback from the pro-choice community," said Alison Ojanen-Goldsmith of Seattle's Full Spectrum Doulas to Women’s Week. "Some pro-choice advocates don't want to admit that abortion patients may need support. They deny it because they're fighting anti-choice rhetoric and its insistence that women are somehow damaged by abortion."

Commenting on the NPR article, National Right to Life editor Dave Andrusko says the unspoken objective of glowing stories of the work of abortion doulas is to “normalize” what these women do – assist women in killing their unborn babies.

“It’s a remarkable piece, but all the stories I’ve read about abortion doulas are remarkable. The core message is a kind of lethal solidarity where the abortion doula learns to master the ‘list of neutral phrases and topics’ to use while the woman takes her child’s life,” Andrusko writes.

“Naturally the real moral of these kinds of stories (but not even alluded to) is that if the abortion doula has any moral, ethical, or spiritual hurtles, she leaves them in the dust.”

Doulas like Lauren Overman “have become a kind of born-again true believer in death who will lift up the spirits of the aborting woman and offer the woman her own brand of secular dispensation. And a dead child."