MONTREAL — Linda Gauthier has spent over a decade in a wheelchair. She is used to encountering obstacles in her everyday life, but none like this. She says she was recently refused a mammogram for being constrained to her chair.
“It’s a right,” said Gauthier, who is the president of inclusion activist group RAPLIQ. “I’m a woman, I have breasts like all the other women, but I don’t have the same consideration.”
It all started when she called a public Montreal clinic to book an appointment, but was allegedly told the machine was too old and therefore could not be lowered to the height required to perform the mammogram.
When Gauthier contacted Info-Mammo to inquire about the machine, she says she was told it was only three months old.
Then, she tried another clinic.
“The receptionist asked me if I was going to go with somebody,” said Gauthier. “I said no, that I was going by myself. She said it’s because she needs that person to hold me while I stand.”
That was not an option. Gauthier, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, cannot stand. And she says it’s not just about the physical ability.
“It’s the dignity, you know? We’re half naked.”
Stefania Terrenzio is a radiology technician at VM Medical, a private facility in Montreal. She says she often does mammograms on people in wheelchairs.
“With the help of sponges or the help of props, we are able to help the patient and get the views we need,” said Terrenzio.
Gauthier has taken her case to the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse. As the head of RAPLIQ, she is used to filing complaints but says filing her own is different.
Montreal’s Agence de la santé et des services sociaux told Global News that they are aware of the situation and are working to fix it.
Friday afternoon, Gauthier and RAPLIQ activists gathered in front of the health minister’s office in Montreal to address the issue of mammogram accessibility.
“We always have to fight for something or other,” said RAPLIQ supporter Arlette Meunier “Why? Why can’t we have the same rights?”
RAPLIQ urges other women who have had similar experiences to contact the group through their website at www.rapliq.org.