Speak Out Against Obstetric Violence: Justice for Rinat Dray Toolkit

Contact Northwell Health and ask them to resolve Rinat Dray’s case and to take steps to ensure pregnant patients are never again forced to undergo medical procedures without consent.


Rinat Dray was pregnant with her third child in 2011, and after two cesarean surgeries, she was committed to finding a provider who would be open to the possibility of, and respect her desire for, a Vaginal Birth After Cesarean (VBAC). She chose Northwell Health’s Staten Island University Hospital (SIUH). Despite advertising itself as a VBAC-friendly hospital, Ms. Dray’s birth experience at SIUH was even worse than her previous ones. She was literally wheeled into the operating room against her will and forced to undergo cesarean surgery after having clearly said “no" many times.

SIUH had a discriminatory policy that explicitly provided hospital personnel with a process for “overriding maternal refusals,” ignoring pregnant patients rights to informed consent and bodily autonomy “in the interest of the fetus.” This policy was kept secret from maternity patients; Ms. Dray did not even know about it until after she filed a lawsuit.

In her medical record, her doctor wrote,“The woman has decisional capacity: I have decided to override her refusal to have a C-section.” In addition to forcing her to undergo major surgery for which she did not consent, her doctors also lacerated her bladder. Ms. Dray still suffers from the consequences of the surgery and the trauma of experiencing obstetric violence. Obstetric violence (in the form of forced surgery) of the type Ms. Dray experienced is often justified by the claim that women’s lives and bodies may be subordinated to the state’s (or in Rinat’s case, a private hospital’s) interest in fetal or unborn life. This claim is the same argument used to justify banning abortion.

In response to Ms. Dray's lawsuit, the hospital’s representatives vigorously defended its policies.

Take Action
Use the resources in our toolkit to email Northwell Health or tag them on social media in support of Rinat Dray.