Polyamorous families face stigma in health care system during pregnancy, birth
Personal romantic choices are leading to stigma when it comes to health care. Those are the findings of a new study looking at polyamorous pregnancies and births.
Four year old Bri Spence draws a picture of her family. Herself, her two dads and her mother Taryn Spence who’s in her second trimester of pregnancy.
“We have three parents who can take care of our kids opposed to just two,” says Taryn.
Mom, dad and another male partner who didn’t want to be identified are polyamorous, which is defined as having intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the consent of all partners involved.
"It kind of takes the stress off of the other partners to meet the needs of the single partner because it’s really hard and I think that’s what a lot of monogamous relationships fall short on," she adds.
Polyamorous lifestyles is becoming more and more common across North America and are the focus of recent study from McMaster University looking at the stigma these families face from health care providers during pregnancy and birth.
“Health care providers we realized we aren’t the best at accommodating these differences so a lot of folks described feeling marginalized in terms of feeling judgement about being non monogamous,” says researcher Erika Arsenau.
The study also found that polyamorous families feared backlash surrounding their lifestyle.
“A lot of them were really afraid of potential legal repercussions, there is no protection in our system for alternative family structures and a lot of them had fear their health care providers would call child protective services on them,” says McMaster researcher Samantha Landry
Taryn says she’s lucky she hasn’t come across any prejudice from health care providers and hopes this study will be eye opening for those who have.
“I want other polyamorous families to feel comfortable and confident that they should be able to go into medical care and be honest about who they are and what their situation is and I hope medical professionals learn it’s not their place to be judgmental.”