Jessica Shaw (she/they)

Associate Professor

Calgary Campus

Research & Scolarship Leave (July 1, 2023 – June 30, 2024)

Ph.D. (Social Work)

University of Calgary

MSW (Specialization in Women’s Studies)

Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON


Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON

BA (Women’s Studies & Psychology)

University of Ottawa

Contact information


MacKimmie Tower : MT425

Research and teaching

Research areas

  • Scholarship of Teaching and Learning
  • Sexuality and Gender
  • International
  • Research Methods
  • Human Service Organizations and Systems

Research and Scholarly Activity

Jessica is a participatory researcher and critical theorist who is focused on understanding marginalized experiences of moralized health care, as a way to attend to issues of equity, diversity, decolonization, and inclusion. Moralized health care is health care that is especially framed by personal and political values, particularly those that are ethically complicated and sometimes divisive. She focuses on issues related to sexuality and gender, harm reduction, self-managed abortion, medical assistance in dying, and Indigenous sovereignty over mental, physical, and spiritual wellbeing. Her work is rooted in relational accountability, deference to people as being experts in their own experiences, and a commitment to ensuring that education, research, and service all have positive social change outcomes.

Current Research

  • Innovations in self-managed abortion methods (2023 – 2025)
  • Queer experiences of psychedelics (2022 – 2024)
  • Paralleling Indigenous and non-Indigenous understandings of mental wellness (2020 – 2024)
  • Medical assistance in dying for prisoners and people with limited medico-social supports (2018 – ongoing)

Jessica welcomes contact from students who are seeking research opportunities and supervision in any of the above topics, and in relation to: queer, trans/enby, cishet reproductive rights and sexual rights; polyamory and relationship orientation; naturism.


Jessica was born on Manitoulin Island and grew up on the shores of Lake Temiskaming in a rural Northern Ontario-Québec border town. Her experiences as a youth in a small, rural community helped to shape her understanding of service accessibility, socioeconomic disadvantage, the harms of stigma, and the importance of relational accountability. After high school, Jessica moved to Ottawa to be at the center of political action. It was through her studies, volunteer work, and activism in Ottawa that she discovered social work as a profession through which to be able to engage in social justice work on a full-time basis. 

Jessica started working as a Sessional Instructor at the University of Calgary in 2012, was hired as an Assistant Professor in 2016, and was promoted to Associate Professor (with tenure) in 2021. In addition to her academic work, Jessica is heavily invested in her role as a director of Women Help Women ( – an international feminist activist organization that works to support access to abortion in settings where it is highly restricted.


Refereed Publications

Shaw, J. (2022). Global activist mobilization to support safe abortion in restrictive regimes. Women’s Reproductive Health, 9(1), 45-50. doi: 10.1080/23293691.2021.1999603 

Driftmier, P. & Shaw, J. (2022). Understanding the policy landscape surrounding medical assistance in dying (MAiD) in Canada’s federal prison system. Journal of Correctional Health Care, 28(2). doi:10.1089/jchc.20.05.0043 

Driftmier, P. & Shaw, J. (2021). Medical assistance in dying (MAiD) for Canadian prisoners: A case series of barriers to care in completed MAiD deaths. Health Equity, 5(1), 847-853. doi: 10.1089/heq.2021.0117 

Shaw, J. & Driftmier, P. (2021). “Dying with a smile, just knowing that somebody’s listened to me”: End-of-life care and medical assistance in dying in Canadian prisons. OMEGA Journal of Death and Dying 0(0), 1-24. doi: 10.1177/00302228211052341 

Ferrer, I., Shaw, J., & Lorenzetti, L. (2021). Podcasting for social justice: Exploring the potential of experiential and transformative teaching and learning through social work podcasts. Journal of Social Work Values and Ethics, 18(1), 90-104.  

Frampton, N., Jenney, A., & Shaw, J. (2020). Implementation of practice-based research in social work education. Papers on Postsecondary Learning and Teaching, 4, 96-100. 

Shaw, J., Harper, L., Preston, E., Wright, A., Kelly, M., & Wiebe, E. (2019). Perceptions and experiences of medical assistance in dying among illicit substance users and people living in poverty. OMEGA Journal of Death and Dying, 0,1-22.    

Leveque, E., Samarron, H., & Shaw, J. (2019). Not into sex: Women’s experiences of treatment emergent sexual dysfunction. Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work. Advance online publication. 

Moseson, H. Shaw, J…. Janssen, K. (2019). Contextualizing medication abortion in seven African nations: A literature review. Healthcare for Women International, 40(7-9), 950-980. doi: 10.1080/07399332.2019.1608207 

Ojanen-Goldsmith, A., Hockin, M., Shaw, J., & Hassan, A. (2019). What happens beyond the clinic?: New data on home abortion providers and practices in North America.  

Contraception, 99(5), 318-319. doi: 

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), 277-286. doi:10.1080/23293691.2018.1523120 

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, 22, 211-219. 

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.    

Shaw, J. (2015). Physicians of conscience: A narrative inquiry with Canadian abortion providers  

(Doctoral dissertation, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB). 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  



Jackson, H. & Shaw, J. (Eds.) (2021). Abortion and mothering: Research, stories, and artistic expressions. Demeter Press. 


Book Chapters

Shaw, J. (2021). Abortion providers as mothers, with mothers. In H. Jackson & J. Shaw (Eds.), Abortion and mothering: Research, stories, and artistic expressions (pp. 43-67). Demeter Press.  

Jackson, H. & Shaw, J. (2021). Introduction. In H. Jackson & J. Shaw (Eds.), Abortion and mothering: Research, stories, and artistic expressions (pp. 11-18). Demeter Press.   


Invited Publications

Shaw, J. (2020). Review of the motion pictures Birth on the Border, 2018; Abortion Access in the Maritimes, 2015; The Philippines Baby Factory, 2018. Films for the Feminist Classroom, 10(1)

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


Research & Professional Reports 

Shaw, J. (2021). Philosophical and practical considerations of medical assistance in dying for Canadian prisoners. Commissioned by Public Safety Canada. Ottawa: Government of Canada. 

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 [internal confidential document]. 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., Ormiston, A., & Weeds, C. (2008). 10 years in Ontario women’s reproductive health: Abortion access, midwifery and birth control. Toronto, ON: Ontario Women’s Health Network.  

LaRue, P., & Shaw, J. (2007) Rural access to abortion care in Canada. Philadelphia, PA: Medical Students for Choice.  

Shaw, J. (2007). Reality check: a close look at accessing abortion services in Canadian hospitals.  

Ottawa, ON: Canadians for Choice.   


Parliamentary Proceedings

Invited expert witness to the Special Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying: 

Canada, Parliament. Senate and House of Commons Joint Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying. (2022, November 22). Meetings. 44th Parliament., 1s Session. Retrieved from Parliament of Canada website:


Films, Podcasts, & Media 2017 – present (last updated May 8, 2023)

Films & Podcasts

Calgary Homeless Foundation. (October 13, 2021). Introducing Calgary’s permanent homeless memorial [Video]. YouTube.

Universtiy of Calgary. (October 13, 2021). Homeless memorial: Research through community action [Video]. YouTube.

Shaw, J. & Jespersen, R. (May 27, 2019). Shedding light on why women have abortions. The Ryan Jespersen Show [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

Croteau, J. & Luit, N. (2018, August 24). I will remember you. Off Script [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from

Bukhari, I. (Producer). (2017, March 13). Mosaic Talk [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from  

Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation (Producer), Bukhari, I. (Director). (2017). YYC Colours [Documentary]. Retrieved from 


Interviews and Media Coverage:

Breakenridge, R. (2023, May 5). Afternoons with Rob Breakenridge [radio broadcast]. QR Calgary 107FM.

Favaro, A. (2023, May 3). The number of medically-assisted deaths in Canada's prisons a concern for some experts. CTV News.

Martens, K. (2023, April 20). MAiD in prison: Nine inmates have used Canada’s assisted-death program. APTN News.

Lee, H. (2022, July 17). Risk of losing abortion access can be stressful, experts say. Here’s how to cope. Global News.

Babych, S. (2021, October 13). Permanent memorial unveiled in Calgary to commemorate all who died while experiencing homelessness. Calgary Herald.

Croteau, J. (2021, October 13). “This is a sanctuary”: Advocates unveil permanent memorial for Calgary’s homeless. Global News.

Faculty of Social Work. (2021, October 13). Permanent memorial unveiled for those who died while experiencing homelessness. University of Calgary.

Gilligan, M. (2021, October 13). New Calgary memorial honours lives lost to homelessness. CTV News.

Kost, H. (2021, October 13). Permanent memorial to honour city’s homeless unveiled in downtown Calgary. CBC News.

Shaw, J. (2020, February 1). Angel Cradles or Something More? Understanding Infant Abandonment in Alberta. Global News.

McSwiney, D. (2019, December 23). Solemn ceremony commemorates those who die on city streets while experiencing homelessness: Social work research, advocacy, help make permanent memorial possible. UToday.

Shaw, J. (2019, October 15). Panelist on “The Vote” – CTV’s nightly politics television show during the 2019 federal election. The show was live and broadcast nationally; topic was social issues of importance during the 2019 federal election. Host: Todd Van Der Heyden.

Co-panelists: Jamie Gillies & Kris Wells. Video clip: 

Kappler, M. (2019, July 13). Will Unplanned’s brand of anti-abortion activism work in Canada? Huffington Post. Retrieved from

Saba, R. & Yousif, N. (2019, July 12). Why experts say the anti-abortion movie Unplanned should be allowed to screen – even if it’s problematic. The Star. Retrieved from

Abedi, M. (2019, May 24). How abortion rights work in Canada – and whether they could be put at risk. Global News. Retrieved from

Joseph, R. (2019, May 23). Women get abortions for different reasons – why it’s time to stop asking them to justify the choice. Global News. Retrieved from

Raschkowan, L. (Spring 2019). What journalists don’t talk about when women talk about abortion. Ryerson Review of Journalism. Retrieved from

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


For her work on marginalized experiences of moralized healthcare and for her commitment to deconstructing power dynamics inside and outside of the classroom, Dr. Shaw was honoured with the Ron Ghitter Award in Human Rights and was named "Top 40 Under 40" by Avenue Magazine.