A statue of Dr James Marion Sims, the ‘father of gynecology’ who experimented on black women, has been removed from New York’s Central Park.
Despite performing brutal operations on slave women without anesthesia, Sims has to this day been held up as a pioneer in the field of women’s health, with statues in New York, Pennsylvania and his home state of South Carolina.
Through his callous techniques, he invented the vaginal speculum, which is still used in gynecological examinations, as well as a way to fix a tear between the uterus and bladder during childbirth, during an era when involving women in medicine was frowned up.
However, after years of protests, a recent review by New York officials of the city’s monuments deemed the Sims statue to be a ‘symbol of hate’.
Today at 8am, activists in Harlem declared ‘there is a difference between history and memorializing’ as they removed the 14-foot bronze figure, which will be moved to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where Sims is buried.
Plans are under way to replace the statue with a plaque dedicated to Anarcha, Lucy, and Betsey, the three black slave women who Sims stripped and tortured to test his theories, while his white female patients were allowed painkillers beforehand.
Dr James Marion Sims invented the speculum which offered the first deep look inside women for gynecologists. As a result he was commemorated in a statue in New York’s Central Park
On Tuesday, New York City removed a 14-foot statue of Dr Sims, deeming it a ‘symbol of hate’
Only three of Sims’ dozen slaves are named, Betsey, Lucy and Anarcha; he operated on them without anesthesia while his white patients were medicated. Pictured: an activist at the removal on Tuesday
The Sims statue, which stood on 5th Avenue at 103rd Street, was the first ever erected for a doctor in America. It was made in 1894 and in 1934 moved to the edge of Central Park, near where Sims spent the final years of his life.
South Carolina-born Sims started his career in Montgomery, Alabama, where he was a slave owner and trained doctor.
Early on in his career, he started to notice that many slave women suffered a specific kind of tear between the uterus and bladder (vesico-vaginal fistula) during childbirth, largely because of forced rape and teen pregnancy.
The 14-foot bronze figure will be moved to Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, where Sims is buried
The Sims statue, which stood on 5th Avenue at 103rd Street, was the first ever erected for a doctor in America
In his autobiography, The Story Of My Life, Sims claimed women were clamoring to be operated on by him. However, there is no indication that they consented to the fiercely unethical manner in which he went about treating them
He decided to embark on a series of exploitative experiments that even his doctor peers in the pro-slavery south found to be too extreme.
In his autobiography, The Story Of My Life, Sims claimed women were clamoring to be operated on by him. However, there is no indication that they consented to the fiercely unethical manner in which he went about treating them.
At his hospital, in the center of the neighborhood where slaves were traded, Sims pitted himself as the go-to slave healer for all kinds of ailments.
Meanwhile, he used 12 black women (all anonymous bar Anarcha, Lucy and Betsey) as experiments to trial new surgical techniques – and to test the theory widely held among white physicians that black women did not feel pain as much as white people.
Sims proudly described his experiments: he cut Anarcha 13 times before he could achieve the results he was aiming for; Lucy, he admits, was in ‘extreme’ agony.
This all happened before 1853, when he had earned a name for himself as the ‘father of modern gynecology’ and moved to New York City to become a celebrity doctor, treating royals and A-listers who came in from all over the world.
It was only in the 1960s that feminist texts began to question his adoration.
Sims decided to embark on a series of exploitative experiments that even his doctor peers in the pro-slavery south found to be too extreme