Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Reproductive Justice Story Project?
The Reproductive Justice Story Project is a grassroots patient advocacy organization founded in 2017, directly motivated by negative patient experiences in Ontario and grounded in the knowledge that informed decision-making, patient autonomy, and consensual trauma-informed care are reproductive justice issues.
We exist to bring attention specifically to mistreatment and abuse within our healthcare system as a result of a culture that is not always patient-centred and does not consistently prioritize informed decision-making and consent.
We’re using our platform to speak up about disrespectful and abusive care during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, and while accessing other forms of reproductive healthcare in order to hold harmful systems accountable and influence change across the province.
Our current work revolves around the Community Story Blog. On social media, we share the Community Story Blog submissions along with articles, resources & information.
Future projects in the works include an Ontario-wide patient feedback survey and 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 was launched in January 2018. It is an online space where story submissions from across Ontario are published. We're welcoming your stories of mistreatment, disrespect, discrimination, negligence, and nonconsensual care at the hands of healthcare professionals during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, pregnancy & infant loss, surrogacy, abortion, fertility care, hysterectomy, tubal ligation, treatment for PCOS endometriosis and other conditions, or while accessing other forms of reproductive healthcare or perinatal mental healthcare. If you don't see a story like yours on the blog yet, please consider sending it in anyway.
Click here for the story submission form, or email your contribution to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why go public? Shouldn't we just take up our complaints with the people involved?
Our hope is that the stories shared here on the Community Story Blog will serve as a public body of evidence, illuminating the range of issues faced by patients today while holding individuals and abusive systems accountable and sparking conversations where they need to happen.
We're going public with these stories 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, to forcibly bring about change in the culture of reproductive healthcare in Ontario.
I'm thinking about filing a complaint, but I'm not sure where to start.
See our Resources page for information about filing a formal complaint with your healthcare provider's professional college and the Ontario Patient Ombudsman. If your negative experience took place at a hospital, consider getting in touch with their patient relations department to share your feedback. Contact us if you want support with this.
We recognize that 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 and have the support to do so.
Can my story be published on the blog?
If elements of your healthcare experience felt traumatic, disrespectful, disempowering, frustrating, unprofessional, nonconsensual, discriminatory, inappropriate, or abusive we'd love to hear from you. You're invited to share the good and bad parts of your experience.
We ask that you share specifics like where and approximately when your experience took place. You can remain anonymous on the blog, but you must provide a valid email address so we are able to contact you.
I'm a healthcare provider/birth worker/professional - would you consider posting a story from my perspective?
Yes, absolutely! We recognize that many professionals are also struggling to do good, patient-centred work in a flawed system. We're interested in sharing your stories of working in the healthcare system & supporting folks accessing a range of reproductive healthcare services in Ontario.
If you'd be up for anonymously blowing the whistle on troubling things you've witnessed in your workplace, we'd love to share your words too!
This is a communal space for stories to be widely shared that might not otherwise have a platform.
But I'm not a great writer, what should I say? How should I say it?
Just share your own true story in your own words. Tell us 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 could your care providers have done differently that might've helped your experience to feel less negative, inappropriate, or traumatic?
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 proofread and formatted for the blog. You'll have a chance to report any errors or changes to be made, and provide a photo if you wish.
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
•bigotry, racism, discrimination, cultural insensitivity
•bullying or pressure to submit to care provider's plans
•shaming, mocking, & belittling comments from care providers
•care without consent, unnecessary interventions
•ineffective complaints processes
•lack of privacy & dignity
•threats, lies, coercion
and much more
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 folks, a negative or troubling reproductive healthcare experience might be one of their first, or only, experiences of trauma, discrimination, 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.
For example, did you feel your care providers made assumptions about you based on parts of your identity or appearance? Did you feel judged or discriminated against? Did they talk down to you, or make inappropriate comments? Did you feel they were fully able to listen, support you, and meet your unique needs? Did your experience reactivate troubling memories of past events?
Share as much or as little as you're comfortable sharing if it helps you to tell your story.
I've submitted my story, what happens next?
Thank you so much! This project would not be possible without you.
If we have questions about your submission, we will need to contact you before it is published. Please double-check that your email is spelled correctly before you submit.
Your story will be proofread and formatted for the blog. You'll be contacted at the email address you provided with the link to your published post. If you have a photo you'd be comfortable sharing along with your story, you'll have an opportunity to send it in at that time and report any errors or changes to be made.
How can I support the project?
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 email@example.com if you'd like to help keep things going!
You can help spread the word about the project by sharing & engaging with our posts on social media.
If you have a spot to put up a poster in your community or workplace, here are some printable designs:
We would like to respectfully acknowledge that the land on which The Reproductive Justice Story Project is based in Tkaronto (Toronto) is the traditional territory of the Wendat, the Anishnaabek, Haudenosaunee, Métis, and the Mississaugas of the New Credit. 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.