Saskatoon Health Region apologizes to Indigenous women pressured into tubal ligation surgery

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SASKATOON—The Saskatoon Health Region says it is deeply sorry to Indigenous women who felt coerced into surgery that prevented them from having more children.

The agency commissioned an independent report earlier this year after women complained of feeling pressured by medical staff to have a tubal ligation procedure.

The report was authored by Yvonne Boyer — a lawyer and Canada Research Chair in Aboriginal Health and Wellness at Brandon University — and Judith Bartlett, who is a physician and former University of Manitoba professor.

Boyer and Bartlett’s report recounts the experiences of seven women who described feeling powerless, discriminated against and like they lost their womanhood.

Many said they did not understand the operation, which involves clamping or severing the Fallopian tubes, was a permanent form of birth control.

The report’s authors make a number of calls to action, such as cultural training and an intensive support centre for vulnerable pregnant Indigenous women.

“On behalf of Saskatoon Health Region, we are deeply sorry for what these women experienced, and for any other women in our community who had similar experiences, but were unable to come forward,” said Jackie Mann, vice-president of integrated health services at the Saskatoon Health Region.

“The report states that racism exists within our health care system and we, as leaders, acknowledge this. This report provides us with clear direction on how we must move forward to truly start the healing that needs to occur. We are thankful to the women who had the courage to come forward to share their story with the reviewers about their experience. You have been heard and will be listened to.”