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A statue of the 'father of modern gynecology' is the latest to be targeted as racist — this is why

Image source: TheBlaze

Protesters swarmed New York City's Central Park on Saturday after the J. Marion Sims statue was designated "offensive" by a local activist group, the Black Youth Project 100.

Citing medical apartheid as their reason, the group called for the removal of the statue, and railed against its prominent NYC location.

Women of many races and ages protested the statues this weekend, some of them donning fake bloodstained hospital gowns.

The history

Sims — a South Carolina native — is often referred to as the "father of modern gynecology."

Many would consider Sims to be a natural-born feminist for the strides that he made in women's health care in the 19th century. Sims developed a life-saving surgery to reduce maternal mortality rates during childbirth, and also founded the first women's hospital in 1855.

Sims' history, however, is not without controversy.

The physician, in his day, used enslaved African-American women against their will — and without pain medication — and used them as subjects of experiments to further his medical agenda.

Between the years of 1845 and 1849, it was confirmed that Sims experimented on 12 African-American slaves.

According to records kept by Sims, three of his most well-known patients were called Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy — all of whom suffered from vesicovaginal fistula, a major childbirth complication.

After 13 operations on patient Anarcha, she was considered "cured" and the operation deemed a success.

Despite the fact that anesthesia was available to surgical patients, Sims opted out of using the drugs and claimed that he was concerned by potential side effects of the new drug. The women were, however, administered opium after the surgeries.

Only after Sims' success on his three main trial patients, Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy, did he attempt the procedure on white women, and did use anesthesia for the subsequent surgical procedures.

The issue

The monument to Sims stands on the corner of Fifth Ave. and East 103rd St., opposite the New York Academy of Medicine, and has received criticism from residents in recent years.

Speaking to the New York Daily News, Rossanna Mercedes — a member of the Black Youth Project 100 — said, "Memorializing of imperialist slaveholders, murderers and torturers like J. Marion Sims is white supremacy. We will no longer allow government institutions like the New York City Parks Department to passively allow symbols of oppression."

Another protester, identified by the Daily News as Seshat Mack, added, "At best, J. Marion Sims was a racist man who exploited the institution of racism for his own gain. At best, he was a man who recognized the humanity of black slaves to use them for medical research about the human body — but not enough to recognize and treat their pain during surgery."

"This statue should’ve come down a long time ago," another protester, Elsa Waithe, told the paper. "We don’t have to keep monuments up. Monuments are meant to memorialize. Books exist, museums exist."

New York City previously struck down requests that the statue be removed due to Sims' controversial history.

Activists for the cause now call for the statue to be replaced by another featuring Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy instead.

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