Hospital under fire in suspected rape of patient
By Regina Farrell
A severely brain-damaged woman confined to a Montréal-area psychiatric institution is pregnant, and her mother, the police, and the public curator want answers.
The 34-year-old woman, known as "L" in news reports, has been hospitalized since an accident when she was 12. She cannot speak, and is unable to consent to sex.
L was made a ward of the public curator when she turned 18, and it is the responsibility of the curator's office to ensure that she receives adequate care. The hospital is responsible for her day-to-day care.
On July 8, the hospital wrote to public curator Juliette Bailly advising her that L was 21 weeks pregnant, and that her condition had just been discovered. This came as a surprise to all, because the hospital has a policy of administering birth-control pills to all women and girls of childbearing age.
The story raises the question of whether the hospital is more concerned with preventing pregnancy than preventing rape. Since L is incapable of consent, she could not have become pregnant except by rape.
By prescribing birth-control pills for patients like L, it can be argued the hospital implicity acknowledges that it is not adequately protecting its most vulnerable patients from exploitation, whether at the hands of staff, other patients, or intruders.
The case also raises the question of whether the hospital is trying to avoid culpability for such inadequate protection, by attempting to hide some of the possible consequences of sexual exploitation. Were it not for L's pregnancy, no one would know about the abuse she endured.
Andrée Dupont, communications director for the public curator's office, said Madame Bailly and others
at the curator's office were in shock. They are very concerned about "the lack of proper surveillance"
at the hospital, and have begun legal action against the hospital on L's behalf. A criminal probe is
also underway, but details are not yet available. L's baby is expected to be delivered in November. The
child will be placed for adoption, possibly with a member of L's family.
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