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What we can learn from the admissions of an abortion doula

by | Mar 28, 2014


By Dave Andrusko

BostonDoulaProjectI found it hard to know how to take the very last exchange between Roc Morin of the Atlantic magazine and “full-spectrum doula Annie Robinson,” a 27-year-old woman who counsels/consoles/comforts women who are aborting. Robinson has just told Morin that people get their views on abortion from “culture,” more specifically from their families. Morin says

“With culture being such a powerful force in forming beliefs, do you think that yours were inevitable for you? Could you have turned out differently?

[After Robinson responds, Morin comments]

“You could be a picketer outside an abortion clinic?”

And Robinson acknowledges

“I very legitimately could be. Fork in the road.”

On second thought, in the context of the entire “On Being an Abortion Doula: The range of emotions involved in helping women terminate pregnancies” essay, I believe Robinson is making a series of extremely revealing observations.

To pivot back to the first quote, Robinson is reminding us that while not all-explanatory, to be raised in a pro-life (or, in her case, by “a very liberal couple”) can make a huge difference.

Raised by “a staunch feminist from the get-go,” she imbibed with her mother’s milk “a spirit of being in charge of our bodies and of our lives.”

Contrast that with the perspective we attempt to inculcate in our kids–that when a woman is pregnant, this sense of absolute autonomy runs up against a moral obligation to care for the little one who bears no responsibility for coming to her unbidden. He or she is now there.

Understandably, Morin pays a lot of attention to the peculiar (my choice of words) relationship a doula has with a woman who is about to end the life of her child. (A doula traditionally helps women during childbirth.)

Robinson is honest enough to admit, “Of the seven I was with yesterday, five of them were not really interested in connecting. They don’t want to make eye contact. They’re resistant to my offered hand.” So she talks about how to “provide compassionate care to someone who is seemingly not wanting to receive it.”

But, Morin asks, why don’t they want this compassion? Again, Robinson’s answer is very revealing:

“It’s not that they don’t want the compassion, they just don’t want connection. They just don’t want to be anchored in this moment, perhaps because it’s too much. It gets too real, or it gets too painful. We all have moments in life where we just don’t want to acknowledge where we are right now. To connect with somebody, and to receive what somebody is offering brings you quickly into the present moment, and sometimes people just want to avoid that. And, that’s okay. That’s their way of coping.”

Wow! They don’t want to be “anchored in this moment” because it’s too painful. These women do not want “to acknowledge” where they are—and understandably so: within minutes or hours of sucking the life out of their child.

This is the last post of the week, and it’s a very good use of your time to read the entire piece at So allow me to address just one other of Robinson’s observations. [1]

Morin asks Robinson about pro-lifers and how she relates to us. She has compassion for everyone, she says, “And I think that I do have compassion for the people who so condemn and castigate abortion as a moral sin, because they I think have wounds that haven’t been tended to, and may never be.”

Get it? We oppose the slaughter of unborn children not because it is an objective evil; not because defending the defenseless is as high a moral obligation as there is; not because abortion terminally fractures the single most important bond in human culture; and certainly not because evil unresisted spreads like a metastasizing cancer.

No, we’re motivated by an unattended wound and a “sense of ownership,” by which she means “somehow having a right to judge other people,” which Robinson insists she doesn’t possess.

But Robinson is candid enough to acknowledge in the same answer, “And I think a lot of pro-choicers do have a lot of judgment, and hatred, and anger” which she does not think is “productive.”

I mention this because of the many conversations I’ve had of late and the many posts I’ve written about pro-abortionists who, if possible, are more angry, more bitter, more filled with hate, and more determined than ever to reduce all pro-lifers to loathsome caricatures.

If you take the time to visit the pro-abortion blogs, these people are seething with anger. It’s like the ferocious anger I witnessed first-hand in the 1960s and 1970s is being exhumed.

Which, however, has not led to any new creativity in the way they describe us. We are still the oppressive patriarchy whose only goal is to repress women. (As for all the pro-life women, they are just passive victims of their oppressors.)

Take a few minutes as read “On Being an Abortion Doula.”

[1] We’ll skip commenting on the truly inane response Robinson makes in answering the question, “How does the abortion doula role compare to being a birth doula?”

“There are different emotional textures that you encounter in these rooms. I think also the aftermath is different [!]. One of the things that really draws me to this work is that I’m really interested in loss and grief, and that’s what’s happening here. Even if the grief is celebratory, it still is grief and it still is loss. There’s something lost with birth too—loss of pregnancy, loss of the in-utero experience.”

What can be added to that?

Categories: Abortion