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Shaded under the shadows of a tall tree at the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery stands a statue of Dr. James Marion Sims, who spent almost two decades practicing medicine in the Montgomery area prior to the start of the Civil War. For many, however, “practicing medicine” is too nice a phrase.
Sims is known as “the father of modern gynecology,” but his detractors refer to him as “Father Butcher” for his experiments on enslaved women - without anesthesia or what today would be called “informed consent.”
His legacy - and the statues dedicated to him for his medical discoveries and advancements in Montgomery, Columbia, SC, and until its removal in early 2018, New York City’s Central Park - only tell part of the story. The whole story requires questioning who Sims was and who the subjects of his experiments were - the mothers of gynecology.
Remembering Anarcha explores these historical figures and issues, along with ethics, race, and the lingering effects on modern society and medicine.