Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Reproductive Justice Story Project?
The Reproductive Justice Story Project is a grassroots patient advocacy website 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 can be framed as reproductive justice issues.
It exists 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.
This is a platform speaking up about disrespectful and abusive care during pregnancy*, childbirth, postpartum, and while accessing other forms of reproductive healthcare, perinatal mental healthcare, and other supports in order to hold harmful systems accountable and influence change across the province. (*preconception, abortion, miscarriage, infant loss, surrogacy, adoption... we acknowledge the full range of pregnancy experiences and all these stories are welcomed)
Our current work revolves around the Community Story Blog. On social media, we share the Community Story Blog submissions along with articles, resources & information related to reproductive health, rights, and justice.
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 a communal space for stories to be widely shared that might not otherwise have a platform. Story submissions from across Ontario are welcome.
We're publishing your stories of obstetric & gynaecological violence, birth trauma, challenges seeking abortion care, involvement with the Children’s Aid Society, mistreatment, hostility, and discrimination from care professionals related to sexual & reproductive health, mistreatment, disrespect, discrimination, negligence, and nonconsensual care at the hands of healthcare professionals during pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum, pregnancy & infant loss, fertility care, hysterectomy, tubal ligation, treatment for chronic reproductive health conditions, experiences filing formal complaints against healthcare professionals and much more.
If you don't see a story like yours on the blog yet, please consider sending it in anyway. Your story counts!
Click here for the story submission form, or email your contribution directly to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Why go public? Shouldn't we just take up our complaints with the people involved?
The 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 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.
Thank you for speaking up. What happened was not okay and was not your fault. By filing a complaint, you are helping to create a better future for patients.
See our Guide to Reporting Negative Reproductive Healthcare Experiences. Feel free to reach out if you need support: email@example.com
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.
Can my story be published on the blog?
If elements of your healthcare experience felt traumatic, disrespectful, disempowering, 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 and share the link to your story.
I'm a healthcare provider/ birth worker/ abortion doula/ mental health worker/ midwifery student/ other professional - would you consider posting a story from my perspective?
Yes, absolutely! We're interested in sharing your stories of working in the healthcare system & issues you’ve encountered while supporting folks accessing a range of sexual & reproductive healthcare services in Ontario: birth, pregnancy & infant loss, abortion, mental healthcare and more.
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! Get in touch to chat anytime: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 lightly 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
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 GTA. Please reach out if you need some help to tell your story.
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, 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 your age or appearance? Did you feel unfairly judged? Did care providers 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 abuse? Did you feel safe speaking up?
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.
Please double-check that your email is spelled correctly before you submit.
Your story will be lightly proofread 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 you’d like to make. This is YOUR story.
How can I support the project?
The Reproductive Justice Story Project has no operating budget. It relies 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!
You can help spread the word about the project by sharing & engaging with our posts on social media.
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.
The Reproductive Justice Story Project © 2018