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Reproductive Health - Activism | July 8, 2022, 6:00 CDT

Your Guide to Finding Nonjudgmental Abortion Support Services

Despite recent legislation and judicial rulings, supportive resources are available.
Lola Méndez

Written by

Lola Méndez
A-woman-researches-abortion-on-a-computer

In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn the federal protections for access to abortion, and as states continue to pass new laws further restricting reproductive rights, talking to friends, relatives and even your doctor about your decision to get an abortion might not be possible.

However, judgment-free support resources exist for anyone who has recently had an abortion or decided to have one soon.

Virtual community

Fro those without trusted friends or family that support the choice to have an abortion, an online community of individuals is working to offer what assistance they can.

A leading online forum for nonjudgmental abortion support is the Auntie Network on Reddit, which has 77,0000 members and promotes itself as "a place to help anyone who has a uterus." Since May 2019, the network of "aunties" has provided judgment-free resources—and until June 2022, assisted people who needed help obtaining an abortion. The subreddit has suspended services out of concern for users' personal safety but maintains this pause is temporary.

When they're active, the aunties provide in-person support to people who want an abortion, offering services such as transportation to an abortion provider, free accommodations for recovery, home-cooked meals and more. There are even people in Canada and Mexico who offer to help Americans access the healthcare they need across the border.

While the Auntie Network is not active at this time, it is still a place for information, discussion and education.

Other helpful Reddit communities include r/abortion, r/prochoice and r/feminism.

"R/abortion is run by abortion-rights activists, advocates and medical folk who provide guidance when people are asking about clinics, procedure types, risks and other questions," said Robin Marty, a Minneapolis-based journalist and author of "New Handbook for a Post-Roe America." "The vast majority of people who post come to talk to people who understand them and get reassurance."

Judgment-free counseling

Catrina Otonoga, J.D., communications manager for the Abortion Care Network (ACN), the national association for independent, community-based abortion care providers, with headquarters in Washington, D.C., recommended All-Options.

All-Options is a judgment-free resource that offers free peer counseling to people in the United States and Canada for all of their decisions, feelings and experiences with pregnancy, parenting, abortion and adoption through the All-Options Talkline. All-Options recommends connecting to Apiary or Midwest Access Coalition for practical support.

"All-Options is a national, secular, inclusive nonprofit. It's a safe, supportive space to talk. Whether you're not sure about having an abortion or you want to talk about an abortion you had in the past, they're an open space for people of all ages, genders, races, sexualities, backgrounds, religious affiliations and political leanings," Otonoga said.

Exhale Pro-Voice offers nonjudgmental after-abortion support through confidential talk and text lines. Marty recommended this organization and the TherapyDen, where you can input specialties for counseling.

"Therapists are trained to provide services without bias, and there are procedures in place to report anyone that violates that practice," said Talitha Phillips, CEO of Claris Health, a women's health center serving West Los Angeles.

"I started working for Claris Health after going through their postabortion counseling and support group in college. I experienced firsthand how incredible their services are and never felt judged; only accepted, heard and valued," Phillips said.

Other supportive organizations

The National Council of Jewish Women fights to preserve the right to abortion, and the organization's Rabbis for Repro network is committed to providing support for people who need abortions, on the basis that abortion bans violate Jewish people's religious freedom. In Shifra's Arms is a Jewish support organization for people seeking abortions or counseling.

Faith Aloud by All-Options offers clergy counseling from diverse faith backgrounds.

Resources to avoid

Many websites claiming to help people connect in person or via telehealth with therapists who specialize in postabortion counseling are run by antiabortion organizations that may pass judgment on those clients.

"There are many organizations heavily supported and financed by the antiabortion movement that trick people into thinking they provide support for abortion when, in fact, they're trying to force their own agenda and dissuade people from seeking and obtaining abortions," warned Paulina Guerrero Ph.D., national programs manager of All-Options, based in Oakland, California. "The antiabortion movement has made it difficult to trust information online since they create a lot of false and misleading content around postabortion counseling."

Avoid practitioners who focus on "postabortion syndrome" as the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association don't recognize this condition.

"So-called postabortion syndrome was made up by antiabortion extremists to increase abortion stigma and fear, and has been proven not to be a real syndrome," Otonoga said.

Local abortion clinics

Your local abortion clinic is an excellent resource for questions, counseling and support. Be aware, however, that many fake abortion clinics exist. Find legitimate abortion support providers through the ACN or Planned Parenthood websites.

Local abortion clinics and funds may have information on support groups you can join. Guerrero noted that some abortion funds run postabortion groups with licensed clinical social workers.

"Clinics' staff are trained in options counseling, so even if you aren't sure about your next steps, they're there to support you," Otonoga said.

Abortion is a medical procedure that is currently illegal or restricted in some portions of the United States. For more information about the legality of abortion in your area, please consult a local healthcare provider.

Lola Méndez

Written by

Lola Méndez