Thursday, May 3, 2018

J. Marion Sims: the "father" of gynecology's statue is removed from Central Park

We all know the history of surgical innovation is not a pretty one. With all the blessings and benefits of this type of treatment there are thousands of stories of little or no anesthesia, dirty instruments, and overeager scalpel wielders. 

I recently heard about the removal of a surgeon's statue, a 19th century "pioneering" gynecologist, from Central Park. I wasn't familiar with J. Marion Sims until a few weeks ago. His invention of the vaginal speculum and surgical repair for fistula came after a series of experimental surgeries on non-anesthetized enslaved women. Anarcha, a 17-year-old, was operated on by Sims thirty times. 

Read the story and watch the video from Vox: New York just removed a statue of a surgeon who experimented on enslaved women. 

A 2006 Journal of Medical Ethics article gives another view of Sims patients and suggests they were willing participants when no other treatment was available: The medical ethics of Dr J Marion Sims: a fresh look at the historical record.

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