University of Calgary

Jessica Shaw

  • Associate Professor
  • Aboriginal Issues, Indigenous Education, Rural & Northern Practice
  • Advocacy
  • Dual/Multiple Relationships
  • Field Education
  • Gender

Currently Teaching

Not currently teaching any courses.


Jessica Shaw has been a sessional instructor with the Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary since January 2012, and has been an Assistant Professor since January 2016. Jessica was born on Manitoulin Island and grew up in rural Northern Ontario. Her experiences as a youth in a rural community helped to shape her social work understanding of the importance of service accessibility, and of the nature of dual and multiple relationships. In addition to her Social Work degrees, Jessica holds both undergraduate and graduate specializations in Women and Gender Studies, and is a DONA trained birth doula. In recognition of the need to connect full spectrum doulas (doulas who provide services for people of all genders, in all settings, and for all pregnancy outcomes) with clients and with each other, Jessica started the Full Spectrum Doula Collective of Canada in 2014. 

Jessica is widely known for her work as the Research Coordinator at Canadians for Choice (now Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights), where she produced the report Reality check: A close look at accessing abortion services in Canadian hospitals. Jessica’s work on abortion access has been recognized nationally and internationally. Currently, Jessica serves on the Board of Directors for Women Help Women, an international organization that bridges the gap between abortion rights advocacy and service provision.

Research and Scholarly Activity

Areas of focus: critical social work, diversity and social justice, narrative inquiry, feminist theory and practice. 

Current Research

Jessica is currently involved with a number of research projects related to medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in Canada. She has worked with the first cohort of physicians who have provided MAiD (outside of Québec), and has documented their experiences, as well as the experiences of their patients and the patients’ family and friends. Her most recent study is a Participatory Action Research project that explores the perceptions and experiences of MAiD within highly marginalized populations.

Jessica is also invested in understanding marginalized experiences of reproductive rights, sexual rights, self-determination in healthcare, and body positivity, including: cishet, queer, and transgender menstrual and pregnancy experiences; menstrual extraction; abortion and birth doulas; self-managed abortion; the midwifery model of care; polyamory and relationship orientation; naturism.


PhD, University of Calgary

MSW, Lakehead University

BSW, Lakehead University

BA, University of Ottawa

Professional and Community Associations

Calgary Women’s Centre – Social Policy Committee (2018 – present)

Canadian Association of MAID Assessors and Providers (2017 – present) 

Alberta College of Social Workers (2016 – present) 

Women Help Women (Board of Directors 2016 – present)

National Abortion Federation (Associate Member 2016 – present)

Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women (2015 – present)

Canadian Association for Social Work Education (2013 – present)

Ontario College of Social Workers and Social Service Workers (2013-2016)

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights (Transition Board Member 2012-2014)

Dying with Dignity (Speaking Ambassador 2012-2014)

Canadians for Choice (Board Member and Research Committee Co-chair 2012-2014)


Calgary’s “Top 40 Under 40” by Avenue Magazine (2017)

Distinguished Paper Award from the College of Family Physicians. Paper: Experiences with medical assistance in dying MAID: Patient and loved ones’ perspectives. (2017)

Ron Ghitter Award in Human Rights (2013)

Media Work

Croteau, J. (2018, July 25). Formerly homeless Calgarians launch fundraiser to create memorial for lives lost: ‘We don’t want to forget’. Global News. Retrieved from

Renzetti, E. (2018, July 13). The slow but steady decline of abortion access in the U.S. Globe and Mail. Retrieved from


Laing, Z. (2018, June 10). “We need a space to reflect”: Fundraiser picking up steam for homeless memorial. Calgary Herald. Retrieved from


Krause, D. (2018, June 8). Funding sought for Calgary homeless memorial project. LiveWireCalgary. Retrieved from


Shaw, J. & Janovicek, N. (2018, June 2). Shaw and Janovicek: Bill 9 is a necessary step toward equitable abortion access. Calgary Herald. Retrieved from


Shaw, J. (2018, May, 18). Safe access to abortion clinics is vital. Calgary Herald. Retrieved from


Thorn, M. (2018, January 18). 2018-2019 University of Calgary Teaching and Learning Grants open to proposals. UToday. Retrieved from


Kirby, J. (2017, December 21). A broad vision for reproductive justice. Briarpatch. Retrieved from


Tatelman, S. (2017, December 13). Meet Canada’s abortion doulas. THIS Magazine. Retrieved from


King, A. (2017. October 30). Jessica Shaw – Top 40 Under 40. Avenue. Retrieved from


Moore, J. (2017, October 30). UCalgary spirit shines in annual 2017 Top 40 Under 40 list. UToday. Retrieved from


McSwiney, D. (2017, August 31). How do wait times for transgender medical care affect those awaiting treatment? UToday. Retrieved from


Cameron, E. (2017, May 11). Abortion doulas ready to help. Metro News. Retrieved from


Liss-Schultz, L. (2017, April 27). A new international advice line will help American women end their pregnancies. Mother Jones. Retrieved from


McSwiney, D. (2017, March 20). Film screening aims to spark honest discussion about racism. UToday. Retrieved from


Publications from 2011-Present

Moseson, H. Shaw, J…. Janssen, K. (in press). Contextualizing abortion in sub-Saharan Africa: A literature review. Healthcare for Women International. 


Wiebe, E., Shaw, J.¸ Kelly, M., Wright, A. (2019). Suicide vs Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD): a secondary analysis of three qualitative studies. Death Studies. doi: 10.1080/07481187.2019.1614110 


Shaw, J. (2019). Conscientious affirmations: A response to conscientious objections to abortion. Women’s Reproductive Health, 5(4). 


Shaw, J., Wiebe, E., Nuhn, A., Holmes, S., Kelly, M., & Just, A. (2018). Practice perspectives: Providing medical assistance in dying. Canadian Family Physician, 64(9), e394-e399.


Wiebe, E., Shaw, J., Green, S., Trouton, K., & Kelly, M. (2018). Reasons for requesting medical assistance in dying. Canadian Family Physician, 64(9), 674-679.  


Holmes, S., Wiebe, E., Shaw, J., Nuhn, A., Just, A., & Kelly, M. (2018). Exploring the experience of supporting a loved one through a medically-assisted death in Canada. Canadian Family Physician, 64(9), e387-e393. 


Nuhn, A., Holmes, S., Kelly, M., Just, A., Shaw, J., Wiebe, E. (2018). Experiences and perspectives of people who pursued Medical Assistance in Dying (MAiD) in Vancouver, Canada. Canadian Family Physician, 64(9), e380-e386.


Wright, A. & Shaw, J. (2018). The spectrum of end-of-life care: An argument for access to medical assistance in dying for vulnerable populations. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy. Advanced online publication.


Shaw, J. (2017). Thinking with stories: A renewed call for narrative inquiry as a social work epistemology and methodology. Canadian Social Work Review, (34)2, 207-227. doi: 10.7202/1042889ar  


Shaw, J., & Haney, C. (2017). A thought exercise: Thinking through the found poetry of Canadian abortion providers. Journal of Poetry Therapy, 30(3), 175-188.   


Moseson, H., Kimani, E., Maina, J., Musa, Y., Nmezi, S., Philipo, K., … Shaw, J. (2017). Conceptualizing medical abortion in Sub-Saharan Africa: A scoping review. Kenya: Trust for Indigenous Culture and Health & Amsterdam, NL: Women Help Women.  


Paterson, B. & Shaw, J. (2017). The weight of the wait: How waiting for medical care can affect the well-being of trans people. Calgary: AB: The University of Calgary Markin Undergraduate Student Research Program in Health and Wellness. 


Alberta Association of Midwives, Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, College of Midwives of Alberta, Mount Royal University, Shaw, J. (2017). Project Charter: Sustainable Funding Models/Programs for Midwifery Services to Vulnerable Populations. Edmonton, AB: Ministry of Alberta Health. 


Archer-Kuhn, B., Badry, D., Barron, G., Fotheringham, S., Gibbs Van Brunschot, E., Haines-Saah, R., Hodgins, D., Nicholas, D., Patten, S., Shaw, J., Smart, A., & Tang, K. (2016). Social impacts of an economic downturn: Considerations for the City of Calgary. Calgary, AB: Urban Alliance. 


Shaw, J. (2015). Physicians of conscience: A narrative inquiry with Canadian abortion providers (Doctoral dissertation, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB). Retrieved from


Shaw, J. (2014). November 8, 1994. Saskatoon, SK: Active History. Retrieved from


Shaw, J. (2013). Abortion as a social justice issue in contemporary Canada. Critical Social Work, 14(2). 


Shaw, J. (2013). Full-spectrum reproductive justice: The affinity of abortion rights and birth activism. Studies in Social Justice, 7(1).  


Shaw, J. (2013). The medicalization of birth and midwifery as resistance. Health Care for Women International, 34(6), 522-536. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2012.736569





Shaw, J., Harper, L., Preston, E., Wright, A., Kelly, M., & Wiebe, E. (submitted). Perceptions and experiences of medical assistance in dying among illicit substance users and people living in poverty. OMEGA Journal of Death and Dying.  


Samarron, H., Leveque, E., & Shaw, J. (submitted). What is missing? Conceptualizing women’s experiences with treatment-emergent sexual dysfunction. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality. 


Leveque, E., Samarron, H., & Shaw, J. (submitted). Not into sex: Women’s experiences with treatment-emergent sexual dysfunction. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work. 


Ferrer, I., Lorenzetti, L., & Shaw, J. (submitted). Podcasting for social justice: Exploring the potential of experiential and transformative teaching and learning through social work podcasts. Social Work Education. 


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