With Texas SB 8, Abortion Doulas’ Work Is More Important Than Ever
This year has already been the worst in U.S. history for reproductive rights.
Abortion Doulas Are More Important Than EverEven before the new anti-abortion law in Texas, 2021 has already been the worst year in U.S. history for reproductive rights.BySep 2, 2021GettyMost days, Olivia* feels like she’s drowning. Overwhelmed by the stress of protecting her two young children amid a contentious divorce from her abusive husband, she is too afraid to make the phone call herself, so she asks a friend to set up an appointment with Renée Monteil of
Sacred Moon Doula. When Renée arrives to meet her, the two women travel together to the clinic, passing through the gauntlet of sidewalk protesters draped in rosary beads and shouting a stream of threats and insults disguised as prayers, and enter through the front door.
New Hampshire, where Olivia has come to obtain her prescriptions for mifepristone and misoprostol, the combination of drugs used to end an early pregnancy, is poised tobecome the 28th state in the nation to mandate that an ultrasound procedure be performed before an abortion headtopics.com
—regardless of medical necessity and irrespective of the patient’s wishes or the provider’s recommendations. Renée squeezes Olivia’s hand and strokes her hair as she lays back on the examination table, wiping away the young mother’s tears as the nurse readies the imaging wand for vaginal insertion. “Here is this woman...sobbing, trying to do what is right to keep her and her children safe,” Monteil told me from her home in Keene, NH. “I stayed with her the entire time that everything was explained to her (by the doctor), how to take the medication and what to look for during the pregnancy release. I had to have someone take care of
mytwo daughters so that I could support this mother.”Abortion has existed for as long as pregnancy has existed, and so have doulas—non-medical caregivers who partner with pregnant people to ensure that their needs are met and provide an additional layer of protection from the institutional biases and cultural stigmas that can create or exacerbate lasting trauma. While having a legal abortion is actually
and the simple medical procedure itself is not inherently traumatic, this country has made it nearly impossible to access without enduring harassment, undue financial burden, and acute psychological stress along the way. And all of that, abortion doulas say, was
beforethe current wave of terrifying anti-abortion legislation explicitly targeting their clients and their work.This country has made it nearly impossible to access [abortion] without enduring harassment, undue financial burden, and acute psychological stress. headtopics.com
This has been the worst year for abortion rights in U.S. history. No matter where you live in the country, the sheer volume and scope of frightening bills emerging from legislative sessions in 2021 alone has been astounding, and it’s easy to have missed any of the 90 individual abortion restrictions that have already passed at the state level as we’ve found ourselves bracing for the worst: a possible reversal of
Roe v. Wadedemonstrably are not.Bills that should terrify any American with a cervix—and anyone who loves them—are being signed into law at a breakneck pace in attempts to trigger that reversal. Many of these laws allow no exceptions for rape or incest, and some are unprecedented in their extremity and cruelty;
Texas’ Senate Bill 8, which empowers private citizens to file lawsuits against any other private citizen whom they believe to be connected to or involved in someone’s abortion in even the most peripheral ways—and even incentivizes them with a $10,000 bounty—went into effect Wednesday at midnight, effectively banning abortion in Texas.
When a person ends a pregnancy, they are cared for in various official capacities by a range of medical professionals at each stage of the process: counselors, nurses, doctors, patient advocates. But there’s also an entire village of people in that person’s life, extending far beyond the walls of the clinic, who are ready to provide them with countless other forms of care. The reach of S.B. 8—which criminalizes anyone from the pastor or rabbi who offers spiritual guidance to someone considering an abortion, to the owner of the motel that shelters them, to the friend who drives them to their follow-up appointment—lays bare the sheer number of often loosely connected individuals and organizations required to make just one abortion happen. headtopics.com
Protesters in Texas rallied against the state’s new anti-abortion law in May.Sergio FloresGetty ImagesThat care can look like practical or emotional support: a neighbor who watches your kids, a colleague who covers for you at work so you can take a sick day, a local volunteer-run abortion fund that helps you pay for your procedure, someone who holds your hand and shares a magazine in the waiting room. Often, multiple support roles are performed by a single, crucial person: an abortion doula.
Some weeks ago, when I asked Jenna “JB” Brown, afull-spectrum doula(meaning one who offers non-medical support to a pregnant person regardless of their pregnancy’s outcome) living and working in Austin, how they were processing the news of S.B. 8’s passage, JB told me: “The same way I have processed every egregious piece of anti-abortion legislation that has been passed in my adult life—by trusting that it won't take effect.” JB, who operates in private practice with
Love over Fear Wellness and Birthand goes by both they/them and he/him pronouns interchangeably, was desperately holding onto hope that the bill would somehow be stopped in its tracks before the Sept. 1 deadline in order to maintain the emotional baseline of inner peace and strength that is required get through workdays spent caring for others. JB knows what is at stake in the fight to keep abortion care legal and safe: human lives.
“People talk a lot about what would happen if S.B. 8 or other restrictive laws pass here in Texas, or ifRoe v. Wadeis overturned,” JB told ELLE.com, “but one thing I don't often hear people say, as a matter of fact, is that people will die.”“People talk a lot about what would happen if S.B. 8 or other restrictive laws pass here in Texas, or if
Roe v. Wadeis overturned, but one thing I don't often hear people say is that people will die.”Alarmingly, JB has already seen a sharp increase in the number of potential clients who are terrified to ask for help or information, and in the number of Texans he encounters who don’t realize that, even before the law took effect, it was still entirely legal for them to exercise their legal right to access abortion care.
“The press and the attention [S.B. 8] has received—coupled with people's misunderstandings of our legal systems, which is by design—means that many people will remain misinformed in their options and the risks associated with those options,” JB said
.“Even conversation around S.B. 8 decreases access to life-saving abortion services by stirring fear.” Read more: ELLE Magazine (US) »
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Texas Doctor Challenges SB 8, Admits To Performing An AbortionTexas Doctor Challenges SB 8, Admits To Performing An Abortion “I believe abortion is an essential part of health care. … I can’t just sit back and watch us return to 1972.”
The Texas Abortion Provider Who Defied S.B. 8 Has Been SuedThe suit was filed by a private citizen in Arkansas, who says the law should be subject to judicial review
The Texas Abortion Provider Who Defied S.B. 8 Has Been Sued [Updated]Update: Two private citizens have now filed suits against Alan Braid, the Texas physician who spoke out about providing abortion care after six weeks Does everyone who files a suit get $10,000? What happens if lots of people file a suit, get the cash, and then drop the suit? Jesus Is the $10k first-come-first-served? How do I cut out the other guy. Hey, if I have an abortion, can I rat out the doctor for the $10,000?
WSJ News Exclusive | Texas Abortion Law Faces Pushback From Some CompaniesDozens of companies signed a statement saying Texas's abortion law “threatens the health, independence, and economic stability of our workers and customers.” Starbucks and Microsoft were among the companies that declined to participate. It is totally against the settled law of the land. It is also unfair to women and their rights. It is politically motivated. It is to incite the base. It does not help women who may be victim of unfortunate situation. It is unjust. It is insane. It is not RIGHT! It is wrong! Starbucks has accomplished what our kids couldn't after hounding us for over a decade to support small franchises and coffee shops. 'They created the market,' we noted, to justify our brand loyalty. No more. OverStarbucks For abortion rights, but it's good see businesses who specialise in coffee and computers not lecture the public on societal ideals...
Texas governor signs bill tightening restrictions on abortion-inducing drugsAbortion-inducing drugs in Texas will now be harder to obtain after the state's Republican governor recently signed restrictive legislation into law, weeks after another strict abortion law went into effect in the state. Good. FuturehopeMs They're not abortion inducing, they're pregnancy preventing medications.
Uma Thurman Shares “Darkest Secret” in Op-Ed Condemning Texas Abortion Law'This law is yet another discriminatory tool against those who are economically disadvantaged, and often, indeed, against their partners,' the actress says. donwinslow Thank you You are do much today She knows she was wrong to kill her baby. Hence the long wait to admit it this murder.