Dr. James Marion Sims has been called the “father of modern gynecology” but his claim to fame and notoriety came at a high price. The doctor helped pioneer a procedure that aided difficult pregnancies, but Sims used enslaved Black women as guinea pigs in a series of experiments that turned fatal.
The question of Sims’ unethical treatment of Black women in his Montgomery, Alabama office has long been a point of contention within the medical community that laud him for his innovations regarding surgical repair of vesicovaginal fistula, a condition related to obstructed childbirth.
According to accounts, Sims performed his surgeries on women without their consent and also without the use of anesthesia. The treatment was brutal and Sims’ primitive technique led to the death of the babies of the enslaved women. While he eventually found a proper cure, Sims’ arrogance had him blaming the women and their Black midwives for being uneducated.
Sims’ name is back in the news as a statue of the doctor was defaced in New York’s Central Park over the weekend, coming in the wake of the recent incidents in Charlottesville, Virginia and the removal of Confederate statues around the nation. According to the New York Daily News, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito requested the statue’s removal.
PHOTO: Public Domain
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Little Known Black History Fact: James Marion Sims was originally published on blackamericaweb.com