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NRL News
Page 22
Fall 2011
Volume 38
Issue 8

“Abortion Doula”: A “Flesh and Blood Activism”

By Dave Andrusko

I know, I know. How many times have I written, “You CAN’T make this stuff up”? Well, add one more to the roster—“The Rise of the Abortion Doula: As Abortions Become Harder to Obtain, Pro-Choice Activists Eschew Policy Debates for Flesh and Blood Activism.”

What in the world, you ask, is an “abortion doula”? Well, according to Rachel R. White, writing in the New York Observer, “In essence, it’s the same as a birth doula—in fact, most practitioners do both—except that she provides support to women getting abortions who’ve chosen not to take their pregnancies to term, offering counseling, back rubs and reassurance.”

That is, shall we say, a delicate way of putting it, as we’ll discuss momentarily. (You can read the entire story at

White focuses on New York City, which has long since earned the dubious title of the “abortion capital” of the United States.

Consider: Whether it’s numbers (which are incredible—“about 40 percent of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion, about 90,000 per year”), or the absence of any legislative brakes (such as waiting periods), or the state’s enthusiastic underwriting of the killing (“In 2009, counselors at Planned Parenthood’s four clinics across the city helped more than 6,800 patients who were eligible to sign up for that [Medicaid] program,” according to a story in the January 21, 2011, edition of the New York Times), or housing abortionists who “occupy the outer edge” of the “abortion landscape” (those whose consciences allow them to abort babies up to 24 weeks), New York City is the kind of abortion “magnet” in which you’d expect to find something as lethally zany as Abortion Doulas.

Understand these are true believers. Lauren Mitchell, the 27-year-old gynecological teaching associate and Abortion Doula co-founder, “estimated that doulas see about 15–20 later term abortions a week, and about 75 first trimesters.” That’s per week!

And they take a perverse pride at looking death squarely in the eye. White interviewed a pro-lifer who says, “The quickest way to change a pro-choicer’s mind is to let them see the procedure.” Mitchell, “to some extent,” sees her point, White writes:

“In an interview with The Observer, she 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. ‘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.’ She’s thought about it a lot. ‘I have never been more in,’ she said.”

If that weren’t bad enough, they fancy themselves as a precursor to a kind of 21st-century Underground Railroad: a practice run bringing women from who knows where should the day come when there are serious limitations on abortion. This missionary zeal is manifested in the form of a pretend bravery but also a very real, soul-chilling disengagement from what they are doing.

“During the doula training Ms. Mitchell demonstrated the manual vacuum aspirator for the class. Reaching beneath the conference table, she removed several small cups of green Jell-O and placed them on the table. ‘I remembered the green this time,’ she said, to nervous titters all around. ‘The last group, we had red, and I think it scared some of the doulas.’

“Ms. Mitchell stood up and placed the end of the device, which resembled a very large syringe, into the cup. She pulled the handle. There was a loud slurping sound as the Jell-O was sucked into the chamber and liquefied.”

The story’s subhead is “Flesh and Blood Activism.” Freudian slip or a back-handed acknowledgement of the ghastly reality of what is taking place?