Two indigenous Canadian women have initiated legal action against authorities over claims that they have been subject to coerced sterilizations, a report says.
The unnamed women, according to a report by the British newspaper The Guardian filed a class-action lawsuit against Canadian health authorities for what the pair described as being coerced into undergoing sterilization upon their delivery at Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon in the mid-western province of Saskatchewan, where they originally belong.
The legal challenge, which still requires certification by a judge, was launched against the Saskatchewan government, the Saskatoon Health Region, several individual doctors, and Canada’s attorney general at Saskatoon Court. If certified, the suit would reportedly seek $7 million in damages per woman.
The lawsuit focuses on the idea of proper and informed consent, and whether this was secured before the women underwent a tubal ligation operation.
One of the plaintiffs alleges that she openly refused to have her fallopian tubes tied when hospital staff proposed the procedure after she gave birth to her son in 2001. However, despite her objections, she was wheelchaired to the operating room, still weak from delivery, and the procedure was performed.
The second complainant alleges that a physician suggested tubal ligation as she was taken to the operating theater in a wheelchair for an emergency cesarean section in 2008. She said she had already been given an epidural administration to ease the deep pain she was in.
The issue of coerced sterilizations in the Canadian province came into the spotlight in 2015, when a number of women reported an alleged tubal ligation carried out immediately after childbirth at a hospital.
The present suit was filed after health authorities in Saskatchewan admitted in late July that several women had come forward with similar claims. The Saskatoon Health Region at the time apologized publicly for previous forced sterilizations after a 57-page review was issued on the postpartum tubal ligation policy that was in place from 2005 to 2010.
Alisa Lombard, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, believes that this is not an indigenous issue, but rather a violation of human rights.
Indigenous people make up about four percent of the Canadian population and suffer from higher levels of poverty and violence. Their plight has been the concern of international rights groups as well as the United Nations that have come with numerous disturbing reports in the past.