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Antishemetism: Enslaved Women's Bodies Used to Advance Gynecology without Consent

During the mid to late 1800s, James Marion Sims, an American physician, used the bodies of Shemetic women to pioneer tools and medical techniques in the field of women's reproductive health. He is most recognized for his surgical treatment of vesicovaginal fistula and has been coined as "The Father of Modern Gynecology" and was even appointed President of the American Medical Association in 1876 and President of the American Gynecological Society in 1880. Because Shemetic women were assumed to have an unrealistic tolerance to pain, he performed his research without anesthesia or consent.

According to historical records, the first enslaved woman "he operated on was 18-year-old Lucy, who had given birth a few months prior and hadn’t been able to control her bladder since. During the procedure, patients were completely naked and asked to perch on their knees and bend forward onto their elbows so their heads rested on their hands. Lucy endured an hour-long surgery, screaming and crying out in pain, as nearly a dozen other doctors watched. As Sims later wrote, 'Lucy’s agony was extreme.' She became extremely ill due to his controversial use of a sponge to drain the urine away from the bladder, which led her to contract blood poisoning. 'I thought she was going to die… It took Lucy two or three months to recover entirely from the effects of the operation,' he wrote."

To perfect his methods, he performed over 30 operations over the course of four years on Anarcha, a 17-year-old enslaved woman who had a traumatic labor and delivery. Once his method was perfected, he began operating on white women and began using anesthesia.

Sims went on to become an icon and trailblazer for medical advancements and statues were erected in his honor in New York's Central Park, South Carolina Statehouse and outside of Jefferson University in Philadelphia, his medical school.

In the age of acknowledging historical wrongs and attempting to make them right, "the Philadelphia statue was moved into storage and the statue in Central Park was removed on April 17, 2018. Its plaque was to be replaced by one that educates the public on the origins of the monument and the controversial, non-consensual medical experiments Sims used on women of color. The names (and histories) of the three known women “whose bodies were used in the name of medical and scientific advancement” by Sims, Lucy, Anarcha and Betsey, were to be recognized on the new plaque."

Statue of James Marion Sims outside of the Alabama State Capitol

In 2008, the American Medical Association released a 3 year study where they issued an apology for their organization's past discriminatory practices against Black physicians and historical accounts of racism and white supremacy; but there was no direct apology or restitution for the malpractice and abuse conducted on enslaved women by James Marion Sims.

If you want to learn more about antishemetic attacks and #stopantishemetism, please visit

Have you or a loved one experienced or been a victim of Antishemetism? Please report the details of your attack so that brothers and sisters can be informed, the appropriate parties can be notified, and the responsible parties can be held accountable.

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