The medical ethics of the 'father of gynaecology', Dr J Marion Sims.

  title={The medical ethics of the 'father of gynaecology', Dr J Marion Sims.},
  author={Durrenda Nash Ojanuga},
  journal={Journal of Medical Ethics},
  pages={28 - 31}
  • D. Ojanuga
  • Published 1 March 1993
  • Psychology, Medicine
  • Journal of Medical Ethics
Vesico-vaginal fistula (VVF) was a common ailment among American women in the 19th century. Prior to that time, no successful surgery had been developed for the cure of this condition until Dr J Marion Sims perfected a successful surgical technique in 1849. Dr Sims used female slaves as research subjects over a four-year period of experimentation (1845-1849). This paper discusses the controversy surrounding his use of powerless women and whether his actions were acceptable during that… 

Topics from this paper

J. Marion Sims, the Father of Gynecology: Hero or Villain?
  • J. Sartin
  • Medicine
    Southern medical journal
  • 2004
An exploration of the nature of Sims' work and the atmosphere in which he practiced will illuminate the critical ethical questions surrounding Sims' use of slave women as experimental subjects.
The medical ethics of Dr J Marion Sims: a fresh look at the historical record
  • L. Wall
  • Sociology, Medicine
    Journal of Medical Ethics
  • 2006
The evidence suggests that Sims’s original patients were willing participants in his surgical attempts to cure their affliction—a condition for which no other viable therapy existed at that time.
#SayHerName: Should Obstetrics and Gynecology Reckon with the Legacy of JM Sims?
Acknowledging the personal sacrifice of the enslaved women and addressing the truth behind the immoral practices of Sims, encourages reconciliation of the race-based medical atrocities of the past and sets the tone for moral, more equitable medical care moving forward.
James Marion Sims and the Rise of Gynaecological Surgery
James Marion Sims's posthumous reputation as the altruistic founder of modem operative gynaecology has been challenged in recent years especially on the grounds that his breakthrough discovery the cure of vesicovaginal fistula was based on experiments conducted on enslaved women in the plantation American South.
J. Marion Sims and the Vesicovaginal Fistula: Historical Understanding, Medical Ethics, and Modern Political Sensibilities
  • L. Wall
  • Medicine
    Female pelvic medicine & reconstructive surgery
  • 2018
Sims' first fistula operations were legal, that they were carried out with express therapeutic intent for the purpose of repairing these women's injuries, and that they conformed to the ethical requirements of his time.
The portrayal of J. Marion Sims' controversial surgical legacy.
This review compares the modern debate surrounding his legacy with the presentation of his operation in widely consulted urological texts and journals and concludes that medical sources have continued to portray him unquestionably as a great figure in medical history.
James Marion Sims: some speculations and a new position.
The Sims speculum has been a valuable gynaecological aid throughout the world since the first example was crudely fashioned from a pewter spoon in 1845 by James Marion Sims, who went on to perfect the instrument that is still widely used in most vaginal surgery and for outpatient assessment of cervical and vaginal conditions, especially prolapse and fistulas.
'I can do the child no good': Dr Sims and the enslaved infants of Montgomery, Alabama.
  • S. Kenny
  • Medicine
    Social history of medicine : the journal of the Society for the Social History of Medicine
  • 2007
The influence of slavery and race on medical education, practice and research in the American South is examined to highlight the surgical treatment of enslaved infants suffering from trismus nascentium (neonatal tetanus).
Acknowledge, in the curriculum, those who suffered for the advancement of medical science
As a genitourinary physician I was taught about the Tuskegee syphilis experiment during my training, where it was acknowledged that much of what we know about syphilis was obtained unethically.1 It
J. Marion Sims, MD: Why He and His Accomplishments Need to Continue to be Recognized a Commentary and Historical Review.
  • L. F. Vernon
  • Medicine, History
    Journal of the National Medical Association
  • 2019
It is argued that Sims's work needs to be understood in a broader historical context and within the broader framework of other forms of human experimentation that took place in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Reappraisals of J. Marion Sims.
  • I. Kaiser
  • Medicine
    American journal of obstetrics and gynecology
  • 1978
Sims' development of repair for vesicovaginal fistula introduced the present epoch of gynecology. He remained professionally active for 30 years thereafter and achieved national and international
Brought to bed. Childbearing in America, 1750-1950
  • I. Loudon
  • Computer Science
    Medical History
  • 1987
Far from being particularly revealing about the history of anatomy, this work is more of an insight into the concerns and interests of modern anatomists and how they perceive their own discipline today.
The Story of my Life
that during his tenure of the Chair at Leyden 2,000 doctors matriculated. Among his pupils were von Haller at Gottingen-the master physiologist of his time, van Swieten and de Haen (the leaders of
On the treatment of vesico-vaginal fistula.
  • L. Longo
  • Medicine
    American journal of obstetrics and gynecology
  • 1995
Female disorder and nineteenth century medicine: the case of vesico-vaginal fistula
  • Caduceus
  • 1987
Women as victims of medical experimentation: J Marion Sims's surgery on slave-women
  • 1985