By Dave Andrusko
What is Claire Donnelly talking about in her first paragraph?
Lauren Overman has a suggested shopping list… [that] includes: a heating pad, a journal, aromatherapy oils – things that could bring them some physical or emotional comfort after the procedure.
The missing words are “Lauren Overman has a suggested shopping list for her clients preparing to get an abortion.”
Overman “is an abortion doula.”
Here’s a quick explanation for those who may not know what an abortion doula is.
It’s women who counsel/console/comfort/transport mothers who are aborting their children. Like everything abortion touches, the work of an abortion doula corrupts what a birth doula traditionally does: assist a woman during childbirth.
But to Donnelly, abortion doulas are nothing short of heroic figures. Lauren Overman is a particularly appealing character to Donnelly because while “other abortion doulas charge between $200 and $800,” Overman “makes her services available either for free or on a sliding scale to abortion patients.”
There are “around 40 practicing abortion doulas in North Carolina, according to an estimate from local abortion rights groups — a number that could soon grow,” Donnelly writes. “North Carolina groups that train doulas say they’ve seen an uptick in people wanting to become abortion doulas in the months since Roe v. Wade was overturned.”
Donnelly explains the range of “service” abortion doulas offer:
Going to the clinic, and holding a patient’s hand during the procedure, are among the services that abortions doulas can offer, but some clinics don’t allow a support person in the room. That forces doulas like Overman to find other ways to be supportive, like sitting down with the person afterward, to listen, share a meal or just watch TV together.
“(It’s) holding space — being there so that they can bring something up if they want to talk about it. But also there are no expectations that you have to talk about it if you don’t want to,” Overman says.
Overman also uses Zoom to consult with people across the country, including in states where abortion is restricted or banned. She can help them locate the closest clinics or find transportation and lodging if they’re traveling a long distance.
Of course there is not a syllable about whom it is that Donnelly is helping to eliminate: the unborn child. That would get in the way of the narrative which stresses how selfless Donnelly is.
The unspoken objective of stories like this is to “normalize” what women like Donnelly do–to make a direct equivalency between what she is assisting and what a birth doula does. (“She has worked as a professional birth doula for many years.” Seamless transition from life to death.) And, naturally, to tell women that aborting their child is best for everyone, with the possible exception of the about-to-be dead child.
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.
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.
As I once observed, women like 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.