Frequently Asked Questions
What is The Reproductive Justice Story Project?
The Reproductive Justice Story Project is a grassroots patient advocacy initiative, 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.
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 mistreatment, birth trauma, abortion care, involvement with the Children’s Aid Society, 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. (*preconception, abortion, miscarriage, infant loss, surrogacy, adoption... 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!
If you’ve had a positive care experience against all odds (despite past negative experiences or vulnerable life circumstances) your experience is also very welcome on the blog. Stories of respectful, supportive, person-centred, trauma-informed, culturally safe, identity-affirming reproductive healthcare is what we should all be striving for. Consider sharing how and why it was possible for you!
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 Community Story Blog is a public body of evidence illuminating the range of issues faced by patients today. It aims to hold individuals and abusive systems accountable and spark conversations where they need to happen.
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.
I'm thinking about filing a formal complaint about what happened to me, but I'm not sure where to start.
If you’re in Ontario, see the Guide to Reporting Negative Reproductive Healthcare Experiences and feel free to reach out: email@example.com
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 troubling, please get in touch. You're invited to share the good and bad parts of your experience.
It is asked 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 for contacting you and sharing 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, please, absolutely! Consider sharing your experiences on the blog. You can remain anonymous if you’d prefer.
Get in touch if you’d like to blow the whistle on troubling things you've witnessed in your workplace, or write about systemic issues that impact your work and your clients. Think: hospital politics, midwifery funding, racism and disparity, care for 2SLGBTQIA+ families, abortion access, lack of accessible perinatal mental health supports, stigma and shame, pregnancy and infant loss, C-sections, VBAC, episiotomies, doula work, lateral bullying amongst professionals… get in touch with your ideas. There is a place for your words on the blog! Let’s collaborate!
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 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 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/formatted for the blog. You'll have a chance to report any errors or changes you’d like, 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
•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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone or skype sessions can be arranged and in-person transcription is also available in the GTA. Please reach out if you’d like 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, 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.
I've submitted my story, what happens next?
Thank you so much! This project would not be possible without you.
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 email@example.com 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. Send files to firstname.lastname@example.org
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