“[The doctor] remained, waiting for them to sign" the consent form for tubal ligation, the attorney told officials.
A new case of alleged coerced sterilization is being investigated, the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) say after the case of a 30-year-old Indigenous woman was presented to the Senate in Ottawa, Wednesday.
On December 13, 2019, while being prepped for a cesarean section for the birth of her third child, the Nakota woman was allegedly handed a consent form for tubal ligation by her physician at the Moose Jaw hospital in December, her attorney, Alisa Lombard, said.
The mother (currently identified as DDS) had always planned to continue having children and the sterilization process was never discussed in any prior medical visits with her doctor. However, she signed the form because she was lead to believe it was a requirement.
Lombard told the Senate Committee on Human Rights, "Immediately before the epidural, the attending doctor interrupted a discussion with the anesthesiologist -- in an abrupt and aggressive manner -- demanding that she signed a consent form for the operation. DDS noticed that a tubal ligation was also listed on the consent form at that time, which the doctor had not mentioned.
"She believed she had no choice but to sign, she knew nothing of the risks, nothing of the consequences and nothing of the other birth control options available to her, because the doctor never disclosed them," said Lombard.
“[The doctor] remained in her private space the entire time, waiting for them to sign. She was, and remains, devastated,” the attorney said, adding that the pair are considering filing a criminal complaint.
The numerous mentions of the woman’s race, number of children, number of pregnancies and miscarriages, marital status, and employment detailed within her medical records and cited by various medical professionals are particularly concerning, Lombard said.
"Honourable senators, DDS was sterilized after the United Nations committee against torture issued their recommendations to Canada and over a year after a statement of claim was filed in this matter. DDS' forced sterilization was foreseeable, and it was preventable. DDS' unwanted sterilization honourable senators, falls squarely at the feet of those who were in a position to make the change and who had notice of this heinous practice and yet, chose not to do anything," the lawyer said.
In a statement, health authorities said they take “very seriously any concerns related to patient care" and had "initiated an investigation into this situation."
In November, Onatio Senator Yvonne Boyer initiated a call for a a nationwide investigation into forced sterilizations in Indigenous communities.
Though an antiquated and highly controversial procedure of the past, recent reports from various territories in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario show reason to believe that the “heinous” procedures may still be in practice around the country.
A 2017 report researched by Boyer and Metis physician Dr. Judith Bartlett described numerous cases of Indigenous women coerced into tubal ligation following childbirth in the Saskatoon Region. The study’s findings were the foundation of the legislator’s first address in the upper chamber.
According to Boyer, mothers were coerced while in labor or on operating tables and at least 60 women are involved in a class-action lawsuit claiming US$7million in damages.
In 2017, the SHA apologized for coercing Indigenous women to undergo tubal ligations after a proposed class-action lawsuit said 100 women reported being forcibly sterilized.