A performance piece about informed consent and obstetric violence.


In 2013, Kimberly Turbin was the victim of a brutal and unnecessary episiotomy that her doctor forced on her during the birth of her son.  She told Dr. Alex Abassi and her nurse that she had twice been the victim of rape, and to be gentle with her and to keep her informed of exactly what they were doing at all times.  Even though neither Kimberly nor her baby were under any medical distress, Dr. Abassi cut her vagina twelve times despite Kimberly’s begging and pleading with him not to. 

The entire ordeal was caught on video by a family member. 

Kimberly’s complaints to the hospital and her doctor were ignored.  With the help of the non-profit Improving Birth, Kimberly sought legal counsel, and her doctor was charged with assault and batteryMark Merin, a prominent lawyer who has been involved with many high-profile civil rights cases is representing Kimberly.  A ruling in Kimberly’s favor would set historic precedence in the United States, given legal protection for women during childbirth is uncertain.

Five actors will read the transcript of the video aloud word for word.  After the first read through, the female actress will read the role of the male doctor, and the male actor will read the role of Kimberly.


This piece was performed on Saturday, September 10, 2016 at Daley Plaza in Chicago


All photos by Nadia Oussenko

The incident involved the outdated use of episiotomy—vaginal cutting that has been discredited for decades as harmful to women and not beneficial to babies when performed routinely. Despite the weight of medical evidence, episiotomy is still sometimes imposed on women without medical need and often without consent, apparently for provider convenience. Such treatment is characterized as obstetric violence, which has now been criminalized in a handful of other countries.
— Improving Birth



I asked for Kimberly's permission before I started this piece and she has been an enthusiastic supporter throughout the process.

Click the button below to donate money for Kimberly's legal fees

Purchase a signed and numbered limited edition copy of the transcript from Kimberly's birth.  Half of the profits will go towards her legal and healthcare costs.