January 12, 2016 — A new collective in Oregon aims to combat abortion stigma by providing "logistical, physical, emotional and informational support" at no cost to women seeking abortion care, Street Roots News reports.
The program, called the Cascades Abortion Support Collective, was founded in early 2015 by two women, Ariel and Meg. CASC members do not share their last names with the media because of security concerns.
The group includes volunteers who have experience in reproductive justice and doula care. CASC provides transportation, physical and emotional coaching and information resources to women seeking or obtaining abortion care.
According to Street Roots News, a woman interested in using CASC services would call the organization, which assesses the woman's support needs and matches her to a doula. The woman and doula then meet in a public space to determine what the woman wants from her experience.
Before the procedure, the doula provides information on the procedure and helps the woman develop questions to ask her abortion provider. During the procedure, the doula can help the woman to varying degrees depending on the woman's preference, such as by sitting in the waiting room to meet her after the procedure or providing acupressure services while the woman is receiving abortion care. Afterwards, the woman is sent home with after-care materials, including heating pads and information resources. The doula checks in with the woman one day, one week and one month after the procedure.
According to Street Roots News, CASC in February will hold a training seminar to help birth doulas and laypeople learn how they can offer women support throughout the abortion experience. The collective hopes to partner with abortion providers in the area and eventually expand their services outside of Portland, Ore.
Heather, an abortion doula and CASC member, said, "It's such a different experience for different people, which is why we really try to focus on having broad skills knowing that what people need is going to be vastly different." She added, "People really often take on that [abortion stigma] and start to devalue themselves or it affects their identity or their self-worth, and that's what we're trying to combat."
Ariel said, "We have this sense there's this emergency ... This is an emergency, the fact that people don't have the support they need. So we want to do what we can to fix it and address it. But also we want this organization to exist long term, so we've also been taking time to set roots that will enable us to grow" (Gaillot, Street Roots News, 1/7).