Washington Post correspondent Monica Hesse specializes in pro-abortion valentines. Two years ago, Hesse penned a long, sympathetic story on a Wyoming woman who drove 400 miles to seek an abortion in Montana. On Wednesday, the Style section was dominated by a Hesse story headlined “Lending a hand at the end of a pregnancy: Doulas offer women support during abortions.”
"Do you support reproductive choices of all shapes and sizes?" the flier had read, posted online in early April. "Become an abortion doula."
More than 50 women had seen the flier on Facebook or Twitter and responded to the email address at the bottom, not entirely sure what an abortion doula was. Twenty-five had been selected for a weekend-long training at a Virginia abortion clinic, and now, one Saturday morning in May, they'd arrived to see whether they were right for the work.
A doula, traditionally, was trained to support a pregnant woman through her delivery, explained a facilitator from a group called D.C. Doulas for Choice.…In a roomful of doctors and nurses focusing on the delivery of a healthy baby, a doula was focused solely on the emotional well-being of the mother.
D.C. Doulas for Choice, a volunteer-based collective, believed pregnant women needed equal support if they decided not to become mothers at all, the facilitator explained.
This was exactly what Hesse was doing: offering herself as a media hand-holder for the abortion industry. The online headline was “The long five minutes: Abortion doulas bring comfort during a complicated time.”
The only “complication” in this story – the only real mention of an opposing point of view – was Grace, the abortion-doula-in-training with a Christian background. Despite her religious upbringing, Grace recently had an abortion, and wanted to offer support to others. This is the only other snippet worth reproducing. “Emotional support” apparently depends on being a philosophical bowl of mush. Tell the woman procuring an abortion whatever she wants to hear. Hesse doesn’t call this what it is – sales talk – although the word “client-centric” slips in:
“We’re going to come up with a mission statement,” Lindsey, the facilitator, had said at training. A sentence-long definition of what this class of doulas wanted to represent.
“Nonjudgmental,” someone called out, and Lindsey wrote it on the whiteboard. “Client-centric,” suggested another. Lindsey wrote down everything, adding semicolons, transforming the suggestions into an unwieldy sentence. “Anything else?” she asked.
From the back of the room, Grace half-raised her hand.
“A doula is water,” she said.
“Taking the shape of whatever role is needed,” Grace explained. “Like water.”
From the whiteboard, Lindsey nodded. “If someone getting an abortion calls it a baby, it’s a baby,” Lindsey said. “If she calls it a fetus, it’s a fetus. If she doesn’t say anything, don’t talk about it.”
She turned and wrote on the whiteboard: “A doula is water.”
Hesse never asked a troubling question, like: What if a woman starts changing her mind about an abortion? Does the doula offer support for that, too?
This is the passage Hesse liked best, since she tweeted it to promote the story: "Outside the clinic abortion was vast and abstract. Inside it was a 5-minute procedure happening to actual people. To be an abortion doula meant being part of the pro-choice movement at its most granular and personal, where philosophical debates fell away."
Being an abortion doula is a really special experience, and this piece profiling @DCDoulas beautifully captures the work that we do supporting patients before, during, and after their abortion”…
“A doula is water. Taking the shape of whatever role is needed, like water.” Thank you @MonicaHesse for sharing our story, and the love, care, and compassion of abortion doulas everywhere!