On Abortion as a Birthworker

Back when I was a full-time doula, I remember having a conversation with my husband’s best friend. Something came up about abortion, and he kind of fumbled over his words and apologized to me.

I was confused for a moment, then asked him directly – “Do you think I’m pro-life because I attend births?”

And he said, “Well, yeah….aren’t you?”

He was surprised (and relieved) to learn that not all birth professionals are pro-life.

I explained that actually, a large number of birth professionals are supportive of women–which means that we support her in making whatever choice she personally feels is best, even if it’s not the one we’d personally make.

Birth professionals who come into this line of work as zealots with an agenda often end up frustrated and angry, as do their clients.

Just because I chose to have 5 children, or birthed at home without a midwife, or skipped the epidural, doesn’t mean I’m automatically judging you for choosing differently.

Long ago, I used to be anti-abortion. I think virtually everyone starts out that way–because on the surface, who doesn’t want to save babies? But it’s so, so, SO much more complex than that.

I cannot hope to understand the many factors at play in each individual’s mind and heart who seeks choices that differ from my own. As a birth professional, my job is simply to hold space safely, to provide compassion and empathy, and to offer (but not push) unbiased information.

However, for those who are curious…here are more of my thoughts on abortion:

Every time we breathe in, millions of bacteria die in our throats. Living necessitates eating, and eating necessitates the death of other beings, regardless if you’re a vegan or whatever. It’s impossible to live a truly “cruelty-free” life.

Is the life of an already-living female person of so little value that she should be forced by law to become a mother when she desperately does not want to? What kind of a life will it be for a child growing up unwanted, perhaps neglected or abused, perhaps even hated?

What kind of a life will it be for that woman, forced to endure an alternate version of her own life, against her will? Will pro-lifers step in and pay for childcare so mom can go to school, work, perhaps work her way out of an abusive relationship, poverty, drugs, or worse? (Saying she “should’ve been more careful” is like blaming a rape victim for what she had to drink or what she was wearing–so check yourself.)

As a person who believes deeply that our souls are eternal, I think that the psychic scars of unwanted motherhood/being unwanted are MUCH worse than the blip on the radar of universal consciousness that abortion equates to for those souls affected. The science of consciousness is fascinating, yet we can’t even pretend to understand it (For more on this, check out cosmiccradle.com.)

If you’re against abortion, you’re effectively saying that fetuses qualify as fully capable beings worthy of life and liberty–but women and girls don’t.

Have you personally spent any time talking to women and girls seeking abortion? Have you listened to their stories? They are incredibly desperate, terrified, often alone–and in agony either way.

Criminalizing abortion will NOT stop abortions from happening. It will take away access to safer abortions, which means women and children will die.

Anti-abortion folks seem to believe that death is the WORST thing that can befall a being from conception onward. I believe and understand that there are things much worse than death.

Being anti-abortion is saying, “I don’t trust women to make the best choices for themselves and the potential life they may carry. I must make sure that there are punishments in place, to ensure they do what I believe is right.”

I think, at the core of the anti-choice movement, is this pervasive belief that females, especially those of childbearing age–are (inherently or potentially) terrible mothers – so their fertility must be objectively managed by others (old white men) and laws that govern their bodies and choices.

I believe that virtually all women who choose abortion are making that choice out of the deepest love and compassion for their potential child.

Female bodies are not empty vessels, only valuable insofar as they can and do carry life.

We each have our own worth, and bodily autonomy cannot be separated from the question of whether or not to bear a child.

We’re not talking about two separate beings, really – but the mother’s conscious choice has to matter more than some objective idea of “saving lives”. No point saving her fetus’ life if she’s not trusted to have autonomy over her own. 

Saying that “women deserve better than abortion” sounds like you’re looking out for women, but really, it’s like putting a pretty ribbon around a severed neck.
There are systemic issues that are MASSIVE, and preventing safe and legal access to abortion in our current culture will not “save babies”. It will kill, maim, and torture women and children–both literally and psychologically.
For many (sad as it sounds) death can be such a lovely friend–it’s far from the worst thing that can happen. 

I send love and clarity to each person who’s reading this. Stay open, and approach this with your heart instead of your mind.

Sometimes love and death are woven together so tightly it’s hard to discern one from the other.


>> I’ve been witnessing and holding space for women and girls who choose abortion since 2014, and these works have helped me to see with eyes unclouded. Click the covers to purchase.