Holding Space for Abortion

This self-guided, 8-hour training is geared to support birth, postpartum, full spectrum doulas, bereavement doulas, mental health professionals, midwives, religious/spiritual leaders, OBGYNs, reproductive rights activists, end-of-life care professionals, and those who have chosen pregnancy termination/abortion.

All are welcome.

Minimum price: $20.00


This course is brave, important, and moving.
I have never experienced a training like this and it has changed me in deep ways.
Thank you.

~R. Gimeno, PhD

What does it mean to hold space for pregnancy termination/abortion?

It is estimated that nearly 1 in four women in the United States will terminate a pregnancy/have an abortion by the age of 45. Yet, many remain silent about the experience due to the political and religious divisiveness on the topic. This training is designed to give voice to those who are silenced.

Whether you are drawn to this study for personal or professional reasons, you are welcome.

By drawing upon Dr. Meera Shah’s September 2020 book entitled You’re the Only One I’ve Told ~ The Stories Behind Abortion, Institute founder and director, Amy Wright Glenn guides participants through an 8-hour training centered upon the following themes.

Companioning ~ By drawing upon the Companioning Model of Care outlined by Alan Wolfelt, Founder and Director of the Center for Loss & Life Transition, participants will be more deeply able to support, listen to, and hold space for stories of pregnancy termination/abortion with compassionate presence. By drawing upon the companioning model of bereavement care, participants will be more effectively able to challenge the “shaming,” “return to normal,” or “don’t talk about it,” approach that has silenced far too many.

Strengthening the support network ~These care practices focus on strengthening circles of support found in family, employment, work, places of worship, and hospital/medical center settings. By drawing upon the stories present in Dr. Shah’s book, participants will be more equipped to explore when and how support networks did, or did not, exist. Dr. Shah also offers readers an analysis of cultural and political structures that impact people who seek abortion. Participants will explore how best to strengthen networks of support pre, during, and post pregnancy termination/abortion.

The healing power of ritual ~ A cross-cultural understanding of the healing power of ritual found in both religious and secular settings will support participants to more deeply understand the importance of personal and communal rituals. Participants will study how various world religions approach death/dying in terms of pregnancy termination/abortion both in terms of theology and mourning practices. Emphasis is also placed upon the crafting of rituals both within and without traditional religious/spiritual frameworks. For the first hour of the 3rd module, Amy interviews Melissa Ming Foynes, PhD with regard to the power of use of ritual in terms of holding space for pregnancy termination/abortion.


Not all doulas would want to hold space for abortions, or believe doulas should hold space for them. But all of us, doulas included, benefit from having a deeper understanding of what abortion doulas actually do. Wherever we may fall in the spectrum of ‘What do you think about abortion?’
it benefits us to have a vision based on clarity.

~Amy Wright Glenn, Unconditional Support ~ A day in the life of an abortion doula


Participants are encouraged to benefit from a 50-minute, one-on-one Holding Space Consultation
to process and reflect upon their experience in this course.


Certificates of Completion issued by the Institute for the Study of Birth, Breath, and Death are offered for all who complete the training/workshop. Participants have open access to complete the training requirements, as long as the course is active on the Institute’s website. Once purchased, participants have life-long access to course materials ~ as long as they are available in this format. 

The Institute welcomes members who hold diverse religious and political points of view. For those signing up for this training, please know the text used for this training is centered upon, and congruent with, the philosophy of the full spectrum doula movement and reproductive rights advocacy.

“These moving stories, taken together, sharply reveal the connections among ‘reproductive justice, gender justice, racial justice, and economic justice.’ A strong contribution to discussions of reproductive rights.”
~Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“I fell in love with the humans and their stories. I feel like this should be required reading in school. It’s compassion training 101 and important right now more than ever.”
~ Claire, Goodreads  ​







Melissa Ming Foynes holds a Ph.D from the University of Oregon and she has completed fellowships at Yale University School of Medicine and the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. Melissa is a clinical psychologist, national educator, and co-founder of a therapy practice specializing in complex trauma, grief, and loss. She has held academic appointments at Harvard University and Boston University. She has expertise in traumatic losses (e.g., loss of children, loss of loved ones to suicide, murder, illness, accidents, natural disasters) as well as grief and loss related to the perinatal period (e.g., birth trauma, obstetric violence, miscarriage, stillbirth, pregnancy termination/abortion) and pediatric medical complexities (e.g., cancer, autoimmune disorders). She also frequently consults with professionals who have experienced trauma, grief, and loss in the course of their work. She is deeply committed to working with people who have experienced discrimination, trauma and/or loss due to some aspect of identity like gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and religion. She has authored over 60 peer-reviewed publications, book chapters, and educational products, and has trained thousands of professionals. Learn more.