Obstetric Violence and Racism

Pregnant patients are particularly vulnerable to mistreatment and abuse by healthcare providers. During labor and delivery, providers are able to exercise unprecedented discretion over their care.

Obstetric violence is defined as “a form of gender-based violence experienced by people giving birth who are subjected to acts of violence that result in their being subordinated because they are obstetric patients.” In this context, “violence” captures not only instances of physical harm but also psychological harm, disrespect, and humiliation at the hands of medical staff during labor and delivery. This particular kind of harm, resulting in a range of outcomes: from loss of dignity and emotional trauma, to perinatal and infant mortality and morbidity, is perpetrated disproportionately against pregnant people of color and most acutely against Black pregnant people.

What makes our approach stand out is that Crumiller handles cases of obstetric racism and violence not only as medical malpractice (where it applies) but as instances of discrimination on the basis of race and/or gender using civil rights claims to address the root causes of these issues and call out medical institutions for their harmful perpetuation of racist and sexist biases.

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Representative Matters

  • We are pursuing a case against an institution that negligently permitted a harasser to continue abusing our patient, by failing to supervise him and by failing to secure her personal contact information.
  • We’ve sued a hospital for kidnapping our client’s baby, refusing to release him without medical justification, because of its biases against our client
  • We are pursuing a case against a medical provider who misgendered our client and traumatized him by making a cruel joke about his gynecological issues

Why reach out to us

  • My doctor was disrespectful, negligent, and/or harmful to me, during pregnancy and/or delivery.
  • My doctors ignored my desires or concerns during pregnancy and/or delivery.
  • I am, or someone I know is, a person of color who was harmed by a medical provider, and it seems like it could have been avoided.
  • My doctor did something that felt sexual and/or inappropriate.
  • I don’t feel like I got the care that I deserved.
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