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Dear ‘Abortion Doula’: Listening To Post-Abortive Women Can Never Justify Abortion


Over the weekend, The New York Times published an op-ed titled “Who Should You Listen to on Abortion? People Who’ve Had Them.” It was written by an abortion doula, a person whose job description looks very similar to that of a birthing doula, only instead of helping the woman through the birth of her child, the abortion doula helps the woman through the death of her child.

As the title suggests, the idea is that, as we form our opinions about abortion, we should give first consideration to women who have actually had abortions. The underlying premise is that if we understood the reasons women have abortions, we might realize it’s not so bad for a woman to take the life of her child. Indeed, the author claims “the voices of those who’ve actually had abortions is ignored.”

For starters, who is being ignored? We’ve seen media coverage of Twitter campaigns where women brag about their abortions; T-shirts designed to allow women to admit they have had an abortion; and movements encouraging women to talk more about their abortion experiences. It certainly doesn’t appear as though anyone is ignoring women who claim positive abortion experiences.

Who Is Being Ignored, Indeed

On the flip side, I agree that women who have negative abortion experiences are ignored, and their regret is often delegitimized. If the author meant we should listen to all women who have experience with abortion, her suggestion would carry more merit. But she essentially ignores the demographic of women who regret their abortion, glossing them over by claiming “Ninety-five percent of women surveyed don’t regret their decisions, and it doesn’t affect our mental health.”

This is intellectual dishonesty. First, shame on The New York Times for printing a statistic such as this with no citation. The 95 percent number is not accurate. It comes from a 2015 survey that has been proven to be deeply flawed. The author dismisses claims that abortion might affect mental health, even though some studies have found exactly the opposite. As I’ve talked about before, there are countless difficulties with conducting post-abortion research, and it’s absurd to lay a blanket claim on the idea that women do not suffer psychological distress after an abortion, when clearly some women do.

But even if we were to grant the 95 percent number, what about the other 5 percent? If there are 1 million abortions every year in the United States, that means 50,000 women regret their abortions every year. Over 20 years, that’s 1 million women who regret their abortions. Presumably the author isn’t advocating that we talk to those women about their experiences, but their voices shouldn’t be ignored.

That is to say, all women do not respond the same after having an abortion. If the author is inviting us to listen to women who have had abortions, she would do well to invite us to listen to different viewpoints. Exposing ourselves to only one side of any issue is no way to develop a healthy understanding of that issue.

Where a Mother’s Desires Conflict With Her Child’s Rights

The bigger problem with this article is that it fails to explain why a woman’s circumstances, difficult as they may be, should justify taking her child’s life. The truth is that in developing an understanding of why women choose to abort, we still will not find a good explanation of why that option should be legal.

In her best attempt to troll the pro-life movement, she says of women seeking abortions, “It’s easier to strip us of our rights when we’re not treated as humans.” The idea is that if we don’t try to understand a woman’s situation, it’s much easier to be anti-abortion. When we dehumanize the woman, it’s easier to fight against abortion.

But this is ludicrous. Talk about making oneself the victim. It is a scientific fact that an unborn child is a human being from the time of conception. The only reason the abortion industry manages to exist is by stripping unborn children of their rights and treating them as less than human. If we allotted equal rights to all human beings, abortion would be abolished immediately. Abortion is a massive human rights violation. It allows for the genocide of an entire demographic of people whose rights have been taken from them.

That is the central problem with abortion. It’s not that pro-lifers don’t understand what women go through, or even that we don’t empathize with their difficult situations. I’ve worked with post-abortive women for years and have a tremendous amount of compassion for what they’ve been through. But the central problem is that, despite how difficult a situation might be, it doesn’t justify taking the life of a child.

People Also Rape and Abuse, and Those Are Illegal

The author goes out of her way to accuse pro-life activists of being unable to understand the “why” of abortion. In doing so, she misses the entire point of the pro-life movement. She rightly states the movement exists to bring an end to legal abortion, but herself does not grasp why. She says “Anti-abortion policies… aim to bring about an end to abortion; but history has shown us there’s no such thing. Abortion will continue. The only question is whether it will be safe or unsafe.”

Recognizing abortion as a genocide makes it imperative that we fight against it, and that we make it illegal. The fact that it may continue to happen is a really poor excuse for not creating a law against it. We don’t use this logic with any other human rights violations, and we shouldn’t use it with abortion. Because the unborn child is a scientifically proven human being, he or she should be afforded the protection of the law. The fact that some would break the law is wholesale irrelevant.

The author concludes by misfiring on the central point in the abortion discussion. She says, “The crux of the issue is not whether you would have an abortion yourself. It’s whether you would stand in the way of someone else’s decision.” Wrong, the crux of the issue is whether the unborn child is a human being, and science has answered that question definitively. Because the answer is a resounding yes, it becomes easier to understand why we should stand in the way of someone’s decision.

The fight against abortion is no different than the fights against rape, child abuse, and domestic violence. When we see a human rights violation happening, the correct response isn’t to get out of the way and let someone else decide to hurt another person. The correct response is to interrupt the violence and stand up for the rights of those who are being violated. Almost everyone understands this principle.

Thus, a biologically informed understanding of abortion means the proper application of this principle is to step in and fight against abortion. There are no circumstances that justify rape, child abuse, or domestic violence, and there are no circumstances that justify abortion.

While women who’ve had abortions certainly deserve the opportunity to share their stories and experiences, the focal point of the abortion discussion is the unborn child being killed. It is the child whose rights are being taken, it is the child who is generally ignored in this discussion, and it is the child who stands to lose the most by keeping abortion legal. That is the crux of the issue.