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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Reproductive justice student group launches program to train student abortion doulas

GW Reproductive Autonomy and Gender Equity announced the Abortion Support Collective program on Instagram last week.

A reproductive justice student organization is collecting applications for a new program that will train students to support people having abortions.

GW Reproductive Autonomy and Gender Equity announced the Abortion Support Collective program last week, which will train students to be abortion doulas who provide students with practical, physical and emotional support during and after a medication abortion — also called the abortion pill. Maddy Niziolek, president of GW RAGE, said the organization launched the program to provide support for students who need to access abortion care away from home and may experience complex emotions related to the procedure.

Niziolek said DC Doulas for Choice Collective — an organization that has offered abortion doula services in the District since its opening in 2011 — will conduct a weekendlong training for selected applicants to familiarize them with the abortion pill process and the skills to emotionally support individuals getting an abortion that will unpack stigmas surrounding the procedure.

She said RAGE is accepting applications for the program through Nov. 13 and hopes to recruit 20 applicants for the doula training positions in the first round of applications with plans to hold future rounds next year.

“We’ve always known that it’s really hard to access an abortion anywhere in this country,” said Niziolek, a second-year graduate student in public administration. “Especially for young people, especially for young people who are far away from home and navigating things like insurance and all sorts of other things. It’s really hard to access abortion care.”

She said RAGE’s abortion support collective aims to fill a gap in doula care for people having abortions via the abortion pill. She said two nearby clinics, Planned Parenthood and Dupont Clinic, offer trained abortion doulas for clinical abortions. Planned Parenthood introduced their abortion doula program in July, who provide an extra level of emotional support and care during the process of an abortion, per Planned Parenthood’s website.

A medication abortion, otherwise known as an abortion pill, does not require a physical procedure in a doctor’s office and can be taken on an individual’s own schedule.  The process involves consumption of two medicines, mifepristone and misoprostol. Clinical abortions are more invasive, physical procedures for terminating pregnancies, according to Planned Parenthood.

People can take the abortion pill to terminate a pregnancy within 77 days, or 11 weeks, following the first day of their last period. After 78 days following their last period, individuals can receive a clinical abortion, according to Planned Parenthood.

“We’re not trained medical professionals, so we can’t provide abortion care to students, but historically we’ve done a lot of advocacy for abortion on campus, working to train students to be organizers for an abortion, and abortion justice,” Niziolek said.

Niziolek said there are no other physical abortion services currently offered by GW or RAGE but RAGE has been communicating with the Student Health Center with the hope of expanding abortion services. RAGE organized a petition for the SHC to start providing medical abortions, which garnered over 800 signatures as of September.

“We are hoping that someday we will offer medication abortions in the Student Health Center,” Niziolek said. “We’ve been working towards that and working with the health center to quicken the referral process and to make more explicit services for students.”

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