Ster­il­iza­tion con­cerns mount­ing: se­na­tor


Lethbridge Herald - - HEADLINE NEWS - Kristy Kirkup THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — OT­TAWA

In­creased national aware­ness about co­erced ster­il­iza­tion of Indige­nous women has re­sulted in mount­ing con­cerns about other vul­ner­a­ble women who may have been en­dured the prac­tice, an On­tario se­na­tor says.

Sen. Yvonne Boyer, who has pro­posed a Sen­ate com­mit­tee study re­cent al­le­ga­tions of Indige­nous women who say they were co­erced into tubal lig­a­tions dur­ing child­birth, said her of­fice has also heard con­cerns about re­pro­duc­tive rights of other marginal­ized women.

She said they come from women who are poor, racial­ized or have from men­tal and phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties need to be looked at as well.

“The door has widened.”

This fall, Boyer gar­nered national and in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion after she spoke out about con­cerns re­gard­ing al­le­ga­tions of mod­ern-day ster­il­iza­tion of Indige­nous women in Canada.

Prior to be­ing ap­pointed to the Sen­ate, Boyer and Metis physi­cian Dr. Ju­dith Bartlett con­ducted an ex­ter­nal re­view of com­plaints about co­erced tubal lig­a­tions in the Saska­toon Health Re­gion, which prompted a for­mal apol­ogy.

Her con­cerns about ster­il­iza­tions in­volv­ing ad­di­tional marginal­ized women are also shared by Sen. Kim Pate.

“I think we are go­ing to find this is some­thing that hap­pened to a lot of poor women, es­pe­cially racial­ized and Indige­nous women and es­pe­cially women with men­tal health is­sues,” Pate said in an in­ter­view.

Pate, who worked ex­ten­sively as an ad­vo­cate in the le­gal and pe­nal sys­tems for 35 years be­fore be­ing ap­pointed to the up­per cham­ber, said it is nec­es­sary to help iden­tify and rec­tify the sit­u­a­tion.

Both Boyer and Pate are also con­sid­er­ing a sep­a­rate study of con­cerns about women and girls ster­il­ized while in prison.

Pate said the ex­am­i­na­tion must un­fold in a sen­si­tive and sup­port­ive way in order to pro­tect the pri­vacy and in­tegrity of women and girls who may have ex­pe­ri­enced this.

Con­cerns about the ster­il­iza­tion of marginal­ized women and the ex­tent to which women have con­sented to the pro­ce­dure is also on the radar of Indige­nous Ser­vices Min­is­ter Jane Philpott, a physi­cian her­self.

In Novem­ber, she told The Cana­dian Press the forced ster­il­iza­tion of vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple, in­clud­ing Indige­nous peo­ple, is a “very se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights” that has hap­pened to a vary­ing ex­tent in Canada for a long time.

She ap­plauded Boyer for rais­ing the issue in the Sen­ate.

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