Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Obstetric Justice Project?
The Obstetric Justice Project (formerly The Reproductive Justice Story Project) is a grassroots patient advocacy initiative, directly motivated by patient experiences and grounded in the knowledge that informed decision-making, patient autonomy, and consensual trauma-informed care can be framed as reproductive justice issues.
This is a platform to help patients and professionals speak up about disrespectful and abusive care in order to hold harmful systems accountable and influence change across the country.
The current work revolves around the Community Story Blog. On social media, the Community Story Blog submissions are shared along with articles, resources and information.
Future projects in the works include a patient feedback survey and more patient advocacy resources. The report for our inaugural independent survey for patients of the St. Joe's Toronto Family Birthing Centre is complete and available online here.
What is The Community Story Blog?
The Community Story Blog is a communal space for stories to be widely shared that might not otherwise have a platform. Story submissions from patients and professionals across Canada are now welcome.
Submit your own experiences of obstetric violence, gynaecological violence, birth trauma, disrespect, discrimination and nonconsensual care at the hands of healthcare professionals before and during pregnancy*, childbirth, postpartum, fertility care, hysterectomy, tubal ligation, treatment for chronic reproductive health conditions, experiences filing formal complaints against healthcare professionals and much more. Exceptionally positive experiences are welcome too, this is a space to share what Obstetric Justice means to you!
(*preconception/trying to conceive, abortion, miscarriage, infant loss, surrogacy, adoption, the postpartum period... we acknowledge the full range of pregnancy experiences and all these stories are welcomed)
If you don't see a story like yours on the blog yet, please consider sending it in anyway. The criteria for eligible stories are extremely broad and your story counts!
Click here for the story submission form, or email your contribution directly to: email@example.com
Why go public? Shouldn't we just take up our complaints with the people involved?
Going public with these stories is essential because there is so little transparency and accountability in professional complaints channels. For the few who are able to speak up, the process of doing so can sometimes feel disempowering, disappointing, or re-traumatizing and does not always provide a sense of justice and closure or bring about meaningful change.
This doesn't mean that speaking up is futile - it just means it will take many more of us speaking out together, loudly and publicly on all available channels, to bring about change in the culture of reproductive healthcare in Canada.
If you’re in Ontario, see the Guide to Reporting Negative Reproductive Healthcare Experiences and feel free to reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking up in any way may be difficult - and is not possible or safe for everyone - but it can be worthwhile if you're up for it.
But I'm not a writer, what should I say? How should I say it?
Just share your own true story in your own words. Tell readers what stood out for you in your own experience.
What was missing from your care that might have made a difference for you? What has been the impact? What might've helped your experience to feel less negative, inappropriate, or traumatic? If you are sharing a story about exceptional reproductive care, what helped to make your experience such a positive and safe one? What does Obstetric Justice mean to you?
Sometimes sharing how it all made you feel can be a good place to start.
It doesn't have to be long (but it can be!) and it doesn't have to be perfect.
Once submitted, your story will be lightly proofread/formatted for the blog (the questions are removed and just your answers are published).
Some themes that continue to come up in story submissions and in the news include:
•lack of respect, empathy, compassion
•ignoring or dismissing patient concerns
•poor bedside manner, poor communication
•disproportionate rates of maternal morbidity and mortality in racialized communities
•racism, discrimination, bigotry, cultural insensitivity
•bullying or pressure to submit to care provider's plans
•shaming, mocking, & belittling comments from care providers
•care without consent, unnecessary interventions
•threats, lies, forced or coerced procedures
•ineffective complaints processes
•lack of privacy & dignity
and much more
If you have accessibility needs or you’d prefer to have your story transcribed, record it as a voice memo on your phone and email it directly to email@example.com
Phone or skype sessions can be arranged and in-person transcription is also available in the Greater Toronto Area. Please reach out if you’d like some help to tell your story. If a translator is needed, we can figure out a way to make that happen!
The submission form contains some personal questions. What does my age/race/sexual orientation/etc... have to do with my story?
This question is totally optional. For some, a negative or troubling reproductive healthcare experience might be one of their first, or only, experiences of trauma, mistreatment, or injustice. But for many others, this is not the case.
The submission form offers a space to talk about how multiple aspects of your own identity (like demographic factors, physical characteristics, and life circumstances) may have come together to inform your experience and your interactions with healthcare providers.
Share as much or as little as you're comfortable sharing if it helps you to tell your story!
How can I support the project?
The Obstetric Justice Project (formerly The Reproductive Justice Story Project) has no operating budget. We rely on the generosity of friends and supporters to cover web & survey hosting and the cost of print materials.
Donations are always welcome by e-transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to help keep things going.
The biggest way to show support and spread the word about the project is to share & engage with posts on social media!
Donations of landscape-aligned photos of hospitals and clinics (inside and out) in your area for use on the blog are also needed. Please get in touch if you are willing to help.
Who did the digital illustrations?
Our custom website art is by Halifax-based illustrator Mollie Cronin:
We would like to respectfully acknowledge that the land on which The Obstetric Justice Project is based in Tkaronto (Toronto) is the territory of the Wendat, the Anishnaabek, Haudenosaunee, métis, and the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. We acknowledge the intergenerational impacts of settler-colonial violence and their implications on Indigenous reproductive health, rights, and justice - historically and into the present day.
The Obstetric Justice Project © 2017-2019