A proposed class action lawsuit has been filed on behalf of Indigenous mothers who say they were pressured into having a tubal ligation while giving birth at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.
Lawsuit papers were served against the attorney general of Canada, the province of Saskatchewan, the Saskatoon Health Region, and physicians at the hospital.
The lawsuit is seeking $7 million in damages per woman involved.
The identities of the women are under a publication ban but all are said to be from Saskatchewan.
Alisa Lombard, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, said this is not an Indigenous issue, it was an infringement on human rights.
“We all have basic choices that ought never to be influenced or removed from our agency and one of those basic choices that is entrenched in human rights is the choice to reproduced or not and that choice can only be made freely,” Lombard told Global News.
The Saskatoon Health Region admitted in late July to failing these women after an external review determined women were coerced into the sterilization procedure.
The report was researched and compiled by Yvonne Boyer, a lawyer and a Canada Research Chair at Manitoba’s Brandon University, and Dr. Judith Bartlett, a physician and researcher.
They documented how some Indigenous women from Saskatoon and the surrounding area were coerced into having their Fallopian tubes clamped or severed after giving birth in hospital.
Most of the women who were interviewed for the report either did not recall consenting to the procedure, or did so because they were exhausted and too overwhelmed to fight any longer, the researchers found.
In response to the findings, the Saskatoon Health Region said it deeply regrets what happened, acknowledging it failed to treat the women with the respect, compassion and support they deserve.
With files from The Canadian Press