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Training abortion doulas in Northern Ireland: lessons from a COVID-19 context
  1. Emma Campbell1,
  2. Naomi Connor1,
  3. Suzie Heaney2,
  4. Fiona Bloomer3
  1. 1 Alliance for Choice, Belfast, UK
  2. 2 School of Nursing and Midwifery, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  3. 3 School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences, Ulster University, Coleraine, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Fiona Bloomer, Ulster University, Coleraine BT52 1SA, UK; fk.bloomer{at}

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Historically, societies have long-standing traditions of birth doulas, as lay persons who support the pregnant woman/person during the birthing process, with contemporary studies affirming their positive impact.1

In parallel, abortion doulas have held roles in assisting in abortion.2 The role centres on emotional and social support, with evidence of their impact increasing in the last decade.3–5 While some doulas operate within specific roles, a full-spectrum doula is involved in all reproductive health outcomes.3

While the COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for sexual and reproductive healthcare (SRH) broadly and in particular abortion services,6–8 it also presented opportunities including abortion doulas working alongside clinical services to complement and be integrated within SRH. In this article we set out the development of abortion doula training in Northern Ireland (NI), within the pandemic context.

As co-convenors of the activist organisation Alliance for Choice (AfC), two of the authors (NC and EC) have been supporting abortion seekers in NI for a combined total of 16 years, assisting approximately 700 abortion cases during this time. Providing this …

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  • Contributors EC and NC conceived and designed the programme. SH was a participant. FB provided research advice. All authors co-wrote the article.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.