Want to Make Your Doula Practice Full-Spectrum?

Are you looking for a rewarding role in the reproductive justice movement? Are you supportive, non-judgmental, compassionate, and kind? Do you have an interest in reproductive rights and women’s health?

Become an Abortion Doula!

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The Advocacy Center at The Women’s Centers is looking for passionate volunteers to provide support to patients who are having pregnancy terminations at our Cherry Hill Women’s Center facility. Abortion Doulas will provide physical, emotional, informational, and spiritual support to our patients before, during, and immediately after their abortion procedures.

Interested??

Training will take place on Saturday, September 28 (9a-4p) and Sunday, September 29 (9a-4:30p). Attendance is mandatory both days to satisfy the training requirement.

Though not required, trained or certified birth or postpartum doulas with an interest in full-spectrum pregnancy support are encouraged to apply!

For more information, contact Joy M at jmigala@thewomenscenters.com!

Abortion Doulas are Coming to Cherry Hill Women’s Center!

By Joy Migala

Have you heard about doulas yet? You probably have – doulas are becoming more and more common in the world of pregnancy and childbirth – but in case you haven’t, let us take a moment to fill you in: Doulas are trained and (sometimes) certified people who support pregnant people during their pregnancy, childbirth, and even through the first several weeks postpartum. Doula literally means “care giver” or “servant” in Greek. Doulas provide non-medical care in the form of physical, emotional, informational, and sometimes spiritual support. There are several different kinds of doulas – birth, postpartum, adoption, miscarriage, and yes, ABORTION doulas.

Abortion doulas are an important part of complete patient care for people who are terminating pregnancies. This cutting-edge model of care is being replicated all over the country. Abortion can be a life event for many people, and women can have complicated needs during their pregnancies, especially when in the process of terminating a pregnancy.  These needs often extend beyond the right to a safe, accessible abortion to include compassionate care of a woman’s emotional and spiritual self and incorporation of physical comfort measures. Every woman deserves to be at the center of her abortion experience, and abortion doulas make that happen.

Most of the time, facilities cannot permit a patient’s support person (mother, boyfriend, husband, partner, cousin, friend, etc…) to accompany the patient during her abortion for a variety of reasons: the sterile environment and the sometimes small amount of space in a procedure room are just a couple of those reasons. Abortion doulas can go above and beyond in filling that gap, because they are trained to support people in this specific situation and are aware of the range of experiences that are possible. They can also support the support people – knowing that their loved one is being taken care of in such a comprehensive way during a potentially difficult time can be a huge comfort to the support person who is probably already worried.

We know that women and families utilize doulas during pregnancy, labor, and the postpartum period because they deserve to have every expectation met when it comes to their care. Doesn’t it make sense to expand that to include abortion? After all, abortion is a large part of reproductive health and one in three women will have one during her childbearing years.

The Advocacy Center for The Women’s Centers is starting an abortion doula program! We’re interviewing potential volunteers NOW and will be running a required 12-15 hour training in August. WE NEED YOU! Email Joy at jmigala@thewomenscenters.com for more information and to apply. We hope you’ll join the movement to support people throughout the entire spectrum of pregnancy!

Essential Truths Gosnell Can Teach: PWC Speaks

By Katherine Bisanz

In an article by Elizabeth Flock that seeks to discover whether the Gosnell story is changing the discussion surrounding abortion, Leah Chamberlain, the administrator of Philadelphia Women’s Center commented that rather that opening up a new conversation on the issue, an even greater divide has been forged between abortion supporters and the anti-choice community.

“I would hope that we could both rally behind the prosecution of someone who was providing subpar medical care to women, but this situation seems to be drawing clear divisions between the two camps and there’s a lot of yelling at each other rather than listening,” she said.

Curtiss Hannum, director of center affairs and development pointed out that one conversation that has indeed shifted is the patient/provider conversation. Hannum has noticed that patients in the clinic are asking different questions that they weren’t concerned about previously about how recently the facility has been inspected or about who their doctors are.

As for how the Philadelphia Women’s Center plans to move forward, Chamberlain made clear that Philadelphia Women’s Center will continue to serve women as it has done for many years:

“Really we are just going to continue to do what we’ve been doing all along which is to listen to, trust, and serve women by providing them with the safe, respectful and compassionate reproductive health care services that they are asking for and deserve”.

Hannum stated that  when it comes down to what the clinic will take away from Gosnell, there is one “essential truth” that Gosnell solidified for them:

“Stigma, shame and inequality in access to legal abortion care creates fertile ground for subpar and criminal providers to thrive. Increased regulation has not stopped illegal and poor quality providers and never will because current regulation is fueled by a desire to limit access and close clinics not from a desire to make women and their families safe, valued and respected.”

Are we paving the way for more Gosnells?

By Katherine Bisanz

Gosnell is not a reflection of what abortion care looks like in this country.  It is a bone-chilling reminder of what it looked like before Roe v. Wade and a forewarning of what could come if state restrictions forge forward at the same rate they have in recent years.  Dick Polman of the Patriot News put it well when he said, “Gosnell is a classic back-alley practitioner, the kind of quack who thrived prior to Roe v. Wade — and would again if the bad old days ever returned”.[i]

Instead of heeding this warning, the response from right wing politicians has been to further tighten state regulations governing abortion providers, like forcing Pennsylvania’s clinics to adhere to many of the architectural and staffing regulations of ambulatory surgical facilities. In their March article, Kate Michelman, former President of NARAL Pro-Choice America and Carol Tracy of the Women’s Law Project summed it up by saying: “The Commonwealth’s focus has been on denying access, not protecting the health and safety of women who need this medical care”.[ii]

Contrary to the beliefs of law makers pushing these bills, restrictions like these won’t make abortion disappear into thin air. In fact, they create just the environment Gosnelian providers prey on.  To further restrict abortion in response to Gosnell is to ignore the many lessons that our history seeks to teach. If anything, as Polman says, “Gosnell is actually an advertisement for why early abortions should remain legal, with government oversight to keep them safe”. [iii]

As each state restriction sinks in, we are opening the door wider and wider for providers like Gosnell to slide through.  If we listen closely to the lessons of the past, it is clear that the direct outcome of these restrictions will not be less abortion, but more Gosnelian abortion.

Social Perception of Gosnell

What brought women to this house of horrors, you ask? Michelman and Tracy cited a number of factors that influenced a women’s decision to seek care at the infamous clinic; one of the most prominent being the fact that many of these women believed the procedure to be illegal despite its’ over 40 years of legality. Legal restrictions and social stigma are likely what cause this belief to flourish in mainstream society. Other reasons women chose Gosnell may have included, but are not limited to: Medicaid’s refusal to provide insurance coverage for most abortions; the scarcity of abortion providers in Pennsylvania (and across the nation); the fear of violence perpetrated by protestors at clinics that Gosnell’s clinic, strangely, did not attract.[iv]

It is critically important that the women of Pennsylvania know that abortion is legal and begin to recognize it as the safe and common medical procedure that it is. It’s imperative that women understand that legitimate providers, like the Women’s Centers, Planned Parenthood and other members of the National Abortion Federation, follow regulations and standard medical procedures and employ only highly trained physicians.

Until women understand abortion to be the safe and legal medical procedure that it can be and their right to experience it safely and free of persecution, future Gosnells will continue to feed on the stigma these restrictions and social structures impose on women and prey on our neighborhoods and communities the way Gosnell did.

Happy? 40th Anniversary

Today marks the 40th Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion.  Although abortion is still legal in the United States, it has become increasingly difficult to access.  Restrictions imposed by states continue to be passed each year, which reduces access to care.  We are far from achieving reproductive justice.

For example, the state of Pennsylvania imposed restrictions in 2012 requiring abortion facilities to follow the same regulations as Ambulatory Surgical Facilities.  Many clinics in Pennsylvania had to either make structural changes to their facilities costing hundreds of thousands of dollars or limit the services they provide or close altogether. 

Last year there were 22 abortion clinics in Pennsylvania – now there are 17.  But only 13 actually provide surgeries now – this is a loss of 9 surgical abortion clinics in the state.  4 clinics closed.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 2012 saw the second-highest number of abortion restrictions ever (2011 was the highest).  This is not reassuring.

So as we reflect on this important anniversary, let’s remember that each year we don’t elect pro-choice candidates is another year that the war on women continues.

 

It’s Holiday Shopping Time!

It’s that time of year again… time for holiday shopping! If you’re not sure what to get for that special someone who is a champion of reproductive justice, fighting stigma and supporting women– look no further!! We have two great ideas from two of our favorite organizations.

You know how much we love 4000 Years for Choice and Heather Ault’s amazing graphic art. Well, not only can you now buy posters and cards with your favorite pro-choice facts and quotes, you can now also buy your very own uterus t-shirt!

uterus tee

 

Our other favorite organization is the Abortion Care Network. This year they’ve created the amazing Stop the War on Women Supershero t-shirt! (Which, in case you were wondering was also designed by the talented, Heather Ault). The best part about the ACN shirt is that when you buy one, all proceeds go to ACN and their support of independent abortion providers.

red-women-acn

 

So, there you go. A couple of great (feminist) gift ideas for the holidays!