giving birth

Woman Forced Into ‘Violent’ Episiotomy Settles Lawsuit Against Doctor

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(Kimberly Turbin / Improving Birth)

A California woman who sued her obstetrician for assault and battery after he forced her to have an episiotomy which was captured on a video that subsequently went viral has settled the lawsuit for an undisclosed sum.

The woman, Kimberly Turbin is a resident of Los Angeles. During the 2013 birth of her son, her obstetrician cut her perineum 12 times, despite very vocal protestations by Turbin. In the video, which Turbin posted on YouTube to help receive justice, you can hear her saying “No, don’t cut me” followed by audible snips. The video was found by birth advocacy group Improving Birth and they stepped up to help Turbin get the justice she deserved.

With the help of civil rights attorney Mark Merin, they sued the doctor Alex Abbassi for assault and battery, citing “obstetric violence.” Episiodomies were once common and prevalent, but are now considered archaic. After the suit was filed in 2015, Abbassi surrendered his medical license, claiming “age-related cognitive defects.” Turbin’s legal team considered a “tactical” move.

The video went viral, being viewed over half a million times according to Dawn Thompson of Improving Birth. “Millions of people read her story in the many news articles written about the case.” In the age of social media and also a growing public outcry over the mistreatment of women it is no surprise that many people became interested in the story.

Turbin, a single mom and rape survivor, is glad to finally put the ordeal behind her. “None of us could blame her for wanting this to be over,” Thompson said in a statement about Turbin. She also added that if they decided to go forward with the case in court that it could have taken another three years. Because of a non-disclosure agreement, the details of the settlement must remain private, but according to Thompson Turbin will have enough money to “put a little away for her son’s education” and seek out the emotional support and counseling “she needs to heal.” One of the biggest reasons for Turbin initially posting the video was to gain visibility for victims of obstetric violence, which isn’t just physical, but also includes coercion into medical procedures and the way a laboring woman is spoken to.

Turbin had called the lawsuit “a big step for women who have been silenced,” adding, “Every time I hear one of these stories about women being ignored when they complained about how they were treated in the hospital, it reminds me of why I’m doing this. It took a lot of people to get this far, but this is the proof that you can do something.”