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Daily Skimm Weekend: Abortion Doulas, Doombingeing, Pointless Goals

Two people hold hands while one is on a medical table
Design: theSkimm | Photo: Getty Images
Jul 23, 2022

Let Me Hold Your Hand

Abortion Doulas: Post-Roe, abortion care is more stigmatized and stressful than it’s been in nearly half a century. But networks of volunteers are stepping up to help.

The Story

These days, reproductive healthcare in the US is fraught. But history has shown abortions will continue, whether they’re legal or not. So it’s no surprise abortion doulas are in demand. Their work can vary — the field isn’t regulated — but generally, they provide mental and emotional support as someone goes through the process. According to Lisa Hamilton, a doula from Brooklyn, NY, that looks like…

  • Focusing on patients: “I usually ask them, ‘How do you best like to be comforted?’ Some people wanna talk [or] know what's gonna happen every step of the way. Others wanna talk about TV, movies, [or] anything but what's happening. Other people don't wanna talk at all — they just want somebody there. Some people wanna be touched, [others] don't. So I try to figure out how they can best be comforted.”

  • Being an advocate: “A lot of the focus of [being a doula] — especially with volunteer work — is more human rights oriented. Making sure that the person is being treated with dignity and respect…There's a huge discrepancy in how people of color and white people are treated in medical situations. It's important for us to be educated on that and to be able to advocate [for them].”

  • Fighting the stigma: “It's really rewarding knowing that I'm comforting somebody who's going through something that maybe they can't talk about with anybody else. I think the biggest problem is the stigma, backlash, and [anti-abortion] protests. What people have to go through to get to a clinic and an abortion is just abusive [and] demoralizing.” 

That’s a lot of work.

Yes. And it’s becoming even more. For the first time, abortion pills have outpaced surgical abortions, according to a recent report. That trend seems likely to continue, particularly in states where access is restricted. So the Doula Project is launching a hotline for people taking abortion pills at home. And in the 20 states that protect abortion, some are now helping out-of-state patients with logistics as they travel in order to access care. All of this is happening as in-person support becomes riskier, forcing doulas in some states to stop working. But Hamilton and others have no intention of backing down.

theSkimm

Throughout history, people have helped each other with abortions. And those networks of care continue today. Post-Roe, abortion doulas are even more needed — and continue to welcome volunteers

PS: To read more about Lisa Hamilton and her work as a doula, click here.

Bookmark'd

Here's a look at the reads we’ve saved, texted, and emailed to our friends…

The Magic of Your First Work Friends...a look at those life-changing connections. And how they’ve become “something of an endangered species.” 

An Old Dog That Found a New Best Friend...how one Colorado man accidentally started a senior home for pets. Give him a round of appawse.

In Praise of Pointless Goals...why you might want to do something just because

Downtime

Downtime doesn’t have to mean doing nothing. Here’s one idea for making the most of your weekend.

You’ve heard of doomscrolling, but what about doombingeing? Think: Finding comfort in dark and scary entertainment, as we live through dark and scary times. 

If you’ve already seen “The Handmaid’s Tale,” “Stranger Things,” and “Station Eleven,” you’ve likely actually benefited from doombingeing. (Yes, benefited.) That’s because bleak binges apparently let you experience and work through “difficult emotions” in a “safe environment.” So next time you’re looking for an escape, consider these…

  • TV shows: “Severance,” a dystopian workplace drama that takes work-life balance in a disturbing direction. “All of Us Are Dead,” a gripping Korean show about high school students surviving a zombie apocalypse. And “Under the Banner of Heaven,” a true-crime series based on the 1984 murder of a woman and her daughter in a tight-knit Mormon community. 

  • Movies: “Nope,” the latest thriller from Jordan Peele about siblings who discover something strange hovering over their family’s horse ranch. “Watcher,” which follows a lonely expat who moves to Bucharest and becomes convinced someone is watching her. And “The Black Phone,” a suspenseful, edge-of-your-seat tale starring Ethan Hawke, who plays a child kidnapper and serial killer. 

  • Books: “Cherish Farrah,” an unsettling social horror novel about two Black girls enmeshed in a white, wealthy country club community. “The School for Good Mothers,” an explosive fiction debut about a woman who finds herself in the hands of a Big Brother-like institution that'll determine whether she qualifies as a good mother. And “The Wild One,” a coming-of-age thriller about three former camp friends and the childhood secret that continues to haunt them.


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