Monday, February 4, 2013

Hysterectomy: Hands Off My Uterus!
















Hysterectomy: Hands Off My Uterus!


An interview with Nora W. Coffey, the
founder of Hysterectomy Educational
Resources and Services (HERS) Foundation.

Nora Coffey went into surgery for a straight-forward procedure to remove a benign cyst and left without her uterus and ovaries, a startling medical event that changed her life, compelling her to found HERS, the Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services Foundation, to educate other women about the subject. 


Her cautionary tale is especially relevant as robotic surgery is touted as an expedient, efficient and safer minimally invasive procedure for hysterectomy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hysterectomy not tied to greater depression risk?

This article has made the media rounds. If something is repeated often enough it will be believed.

HERS Response is awaiting 'approval' as of the date and time of this post. This is the HERS Foundation's response to this "study":

Among my observations of flaws in this study is the disparity in the number of female subjects. There were 1,793, of women with intact female organs, and only 76 women with hysterectomy alone, and 101 women whose uterus and ovaries had been removed. You need an e
qual number of women in each group to have a meaningful statistical result.

I object to the use of obscure and incorrect medical language. Surgical menopause, or surgically induced menopause, is an oxymoron. An intact menopausal woman has functioning a uterus and ovaries. The uterus continues to be a hormone responsive sex organ that provides structural support to the bladder and bowel all of a woman's life. The ovaries continue to produce hormones, albeit in different quantity, into advanced age.

The following is the Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services (HERS) Foundation's study on the effects of hysterectomy reported by 1,000 women. HERS did not ask whether women if they were depressed after hysterectomy, they asked questions that would be revealing of depression, and found the following occurred after hysterectomy:

Hysterectomy only               Hysterectomy/ovaries

Suicidal thoughts 53%       -      Suicidal thoughts 54%
Suicide Attempt 9%           -      Suicide Attempt 10%
Personality change 76%     -      Personality change 80%
Loss of sexual desire 66%   -      Loss of sexual desire 80%
Loss of orgasm 54%           -      Loss of orgasm 63%

The full report of the effects of hysterectomy can be read at http://www.hersfoundation.com/effects.html.

Nora W. Coffey
President, HERS Foundation

Friday, September 9, 2011

The tide is turning!


The tide is turning!
“I am still hoping to hear more about women who are past it all because they said no. It would be comforting to know there are women out there who had the same horrible symptoms, a big fat confused uterus, lived with  it, resisted hysterectomy and are now through menopause and happy that they persevered.”
Women who were told they need a hysterectomy have expressed to HERS a strong desire and need to hear from other women who are/or were determined not to have their uterus and ovaries removed. They need your support. They are fighting pressure from gynecologists, and often well meaning family and friends, to undergo the surgery.

They want to hear from other women who are going through this now, and others whose health problems eventually resolved, either with treatment or just waiting it out until their symptoms subsided.

What gives women the knowledge and power to fight against having their female organs removed? It is the collective experience of vast numbers of hysterectomized women who are sounding the alarm for intact women. These women reveal how they were bullied or ensnared into the operating room, and how the damaging effects of hysterectomy ruined their health, their sex life, their relationships and their careers. The responsibility lies with the doctor to give women correct, factual and complete information on the consequences of hysterectomy and castration. A law requiring doctors to give women HERS female anatomy video, is necessary for informed consent. 

Hysterectomized women want "intact" women to know that they, too, were smart, savvy, asked good questions and did not blindly or blithely agree to surgery. The vast majority of hysterectomies are performed on women who agreed only to exploratory surgery, or to conservative surgery such as removal of a fibroid or an ovarian cyst. Virtually all hysterectomies are performed without the information required for informed consent. 


Hysterectomized women want you to understand that your good questions may be responded to with untruths or outright lies. They share with you their most private, intimate losses caused by the removal of their female organs.  They want you to know that it could be you, that your good questions and research may not protect you from maltreatment. There is no treatment which is able to restore, replace or compensate for the functions of the missing organs. 

Please share your fight to keep your female organs. Women desperately want and need to hear from others who prevailed, who remained intact, and to know that she is not the only one determined to keep her female organs!





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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Uterus


u-ter-us
1. mammalian womb
2. a powerful muscle and sex organ located between the bladder and the bowel in the female pelvis; continuous with the cervix which is continuous with vagina, much in the way that the head is continuous with the neck which is continuous with the shoulders; provides lifelong functions that are vital to every woman’s health and wellbeing
3. a word legislator Scott Randolph was reprimanded for using on the Florida House floor

Just a few months ago the word uterus was as rare in conversations as the word penis. But that was before Scott Randolph had the audacity to speak the word in public.

What Scott Randolph said is this: “If my wife incorporated her uterus, you all would say hands off…But now we're standing here and we're saying we're going to increase regulation on a specific type of membership organization. And that's unions."

Although Florida lawmakers sought to limit the use of the word in public by reprimanding Randolph, within days not only was the word uterus emblazoned along headlines in every media outlet in the country, it was immediately added to the Planned Parenthood debate.

Jason Linkins of The Huffington Post said, “At one point Randolph suggested that his wife ‘incorporate her uterus’ to stop Republicans from pushing measures that would restrict abortions. Republicans, after all, wouldn't want to further regulate a Florida business.” There’s no question that choice is the central issue here.

Just as the union debate is concerned with whether or not workers ought to have the right to collectively bargain for wages and working conditions, the abortion debate is concerned with whether or not a woman ought to have the right to abort pregnancy. And the uterus question I’d like to ask here is this: do doctors have the right to amputate the uterus, without first informing women of the sexual, structural and hormonal functions of the uterus and the consequences of its removal?

The obvious answer to my question is yes, not only are doctors allowed to surgically amputate uteri without informed consent, they are handsomely rewarded for doing so…once every minute of every hour of every day.

It’s not unusual for women to ask HERS if they can still have a baby after the uterus is gone. Or, more commonly, women ask HERS if it is unusual for menstruation to continue after hysterectomy, or if she still needs a pap smear after her cervix was removed along with her uterus.

The reality is that only a very small percentage of the population has been taught the information contained in the HERS video Female Anatomy: the Functions of the Female Organs. It’s rare that I meet a woman who’s aware of the fact that the uterus is a hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ, or that hysterectomy impacts every cell in a woman’s body and increases her risk of heart disease three times that of women with a uterus. Until she watches the HERS anatomy video or reads the Fact sheets on the HERS website home page, where can she go to learn that her sexual vitality and overall health and wellbeing depend on her uterus?

Is hysterectomy a matter of choice for the women who do not have this information? Of course not.

One of the many blog posts I’ve read since Scott Randolph’s faux pas said, “My uterus and I protested at Bank of America today. We paid more in taxes than BofA did. One of our fellow uterati got arrested during the protest.” Only good can come from using the word as often as possible. But with more than 600,000 hysterectomies and female castrations performed without informed consent (which is the same as unconsented) each year in the U.S. alone, she and her fellow uterati might consider protesting in front of hospitals in every state in this country, as HERS did in 2004-2005.

America’s uterati is denied the right to make informed decisions about what they will and will not allow to be done to their bodies.

Let’s keep the discussion going, but let’s not miss the forest for the trees: This is about choice, a woman’s right to make an informed decision about whether she will consent to the surgical removal of her uterus. The female organs are every bit as important to women as the male organs are to men. At what age does a man not need his sex organs?

Almost all women are born with a uterus, but only one out of every two over age 70 go from the cradle to grave with her uterus.

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor was also one in three women


   


Elizabeth Taylor died Wednesday, March 23, 2011. The media remains focused on her legendary life, but Elizabeth Taylor was also 1 out of 3 women who was hysterectomized, and 1 out of 3 women who died from heart disease. Women who undergo hysterectomy before the age of 50 have a 3X greater incidence of heart disease than women who do not undergo hysterectomy. Heart disease is the number one cause of death among women in the U.S. (CDC, Heart Disease Facts and Statistics, 2008).

An extraordinary, talented actress, Taylor was best known for her hot, steamy sexy roles in films like Cat On A Hot Tin Roof, Suddenly Last Summer and Cleopatra. It is notable the list of “Key films in the career of Elizabeth Taylor” published by Reuters today ended with two films, “The Taming of the Shrew” and “Reflections in a Golden Eye”, both released in 1967, one year before she underwent a hysterectomy. Taylor continued to be headline news long after her steamy roles ended, which was soon after her hysterectomy in 1968.

Elizabeth Taylor had a back problem due to an accident when she was a child. The back problems she suffered with became more prominently referred to after the hysterectomy. It is not surprising since back pain is reported as one of the most common problems women experience after hysterectomy. Taylor also developed many of the other problems known to be caused by the surgery, including the need for three hip replacements.

The long, passionate love affair between Taylor and Richard Burton ended in divorce two years after the surgery. The loss of sexual feeling commonly experienced by hysterectomized women might, in part, explain why their marriage ended. They remarried, and again it ended in divorce. Not long after the surgery it was often reported that she was addicted to drugs, alcohol, and physically unable to work.

Taylor died this week, and her fame will follow her beyond the pale. We will never know what this iconic figures career and life might have been if she had not been hysterectomized at age 36. She was extraordinary, but she was also an ordinary woman who experienced great difficulties in a very public way.

It was as if after Elizabeth Taylor’s hysterectomy life was frozen, like watching a film that suddenly hangs on one frame.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Branded

Gynecologist Dr. Red Alinsod gave new meaning to “personalized” care the day he branded Ingrid Paulicivic's uterus after a hysterectomy in June of 2009.  He met her only once, but he claimed the two of them to be good friends.  As a “gesture of friendship”, with an electrocautery tool, he carved and burned her first name into her uterus after removing it from her body.  Alinsod stated that the branding was used as a method of identification, because he “did not want to get it confused with the others.”  As to why he posed holding her newly branded uterus in his hands for 50+ photographs, remains unexplained. These photographs later provided the incriminating evidence that Paulicivic discovered, accidentally, during a follow up visit with Alinsod, after complaining of burning sensations.

The lack of regard and absence of professionalism by Alinsod exemplifies the prevailing attitude that gynecology and society have toward women and the female organs.

In 2003, while performing a hysterectomy, Dr. James Guiler, a University of Kentucky medical school graduate, burned the initials of his alma mater “UK” into the uterus of Stephanie Means and at least nine other women while their uterus’ were still inside their bodies. He continues to practice medicine today.  In 2008, surgeon Steven Kirshner, branded a temporary rose tattoo next to the vagina of a spine surgery patient while she lay unconscious on his operating table.  And in 1999, it was discovered that Michael Neary performed peripartum hysterectomies on 129 women, shortly after giving birth. A major reason these unacceptable acts against women have been tolerated, is because the female organs are interior, with functions that are not outwardly visible, and not known by lay people.  If it was a man subjected to this treatment, and the removed, branded organ was a penis, it would be unfathomable and egregious. When Lorena Bobbit was raped by her husband, and in retaliation amputated his penis and chucked it out of the car window onto the side of the road, a police search team was immediately dispatched to recover the missing penis, and doctors spent nine and a half hours meticulously reattaching it to the alleged rapist. Yet the female organs are removed from 621,000 women a year in the US, one every minute, without regard for the permanently damaging consequences.

To defile a corpse is against the law and subject to criminal prosecution. Defiling an amputated female organ is no less a crime. Moments before Paulicivic’s uterus was branded, it was intricately connected to a complex network of nerves, ligaments, with a rich blood supply. It is unlikely that Alinsod informed Paulicivic that removing her uterus, a hormone responsive reproductive sex organ, would result in permanent, life altering consequences which include a three times greater risk of cardiovascular disease, the loss of uterine orgasm and sexual feeling, a shortened vagina sutured shut at the top, compromised structural support to the bladder, bowel, and pelvis, profound fatigue, diminished cognition and often, social isolation.

The uterus is integral to the well being of women. It provides critically important functions all of a woman’s life. There is no age or time when the uterus is no longer needed. Desecrating the uterus, whether it is intact or amputated, desecrates the woman, and is offensive and intolerable. Learn more about the lifelong functions of the female organs at www.hersfoundation.org.

 *************

The lack of  information about the lifelong functions of the female organs and the disrespect and disdain for women is apparent in many of the comments that were posted after articles about the branded uterus were published online. The first set of comments below were posted by the lay public. The second set were posted by pre-medical students, medical students, and residents on a popular student medical forum. The study of obstetrics and gynecology focuses on the anatomy and functions of the female organs, where medical students learn that the uterus is a hormone responsive reproductive sex organ that provides structural support to the pelvis and the pelvic organs. They undeniably know that when the uterus is removed uterine orgasm is not possible. Many of their comments are arrogant and mock the woman and the desecration of her amputated uterus. A few were sympathetic to the woman, but the majority was not. Many of their comments offer insight about their disdain for women’s sex organs, referring to the amputated uterus as medical waste.

Comments made by the lay public:
"Just wondering.... but why does this woman give a sh*t?? It's medical waste, so who cares if he branded it, cut it open, let students practice on it, or played floor hockey with it??”

"If a barber mistreats hair that has fallen to the floor after its been cut from someones scalp, does that affect their scalp? Absolutely not! And so it is with the uterus. So what if the uterus was branded after removal?”


"I think it is hard to claim medical malpractice for something that was done to an organ already removed from someone's body. It maybe unprofessional behavior but not malpractice because it is not "practice of medicine". The OR staff could have played soccer with the removed uterus, it is still not malpractice if the procedure was uneventful. The burn could be malpractice but that is not the claim here. And why it is malpractice to have fun during something you like doing?”


Comments made by medical community:
Status: Pre-Medical  “I would like to know what font he used...cause if its really well done I think the patient owes the doc some money...”

Status: Medical student “Some people put their hands in drying cement to leave their mark. This doctor is doing the same thing as a favor to someone else... just with female reproductive organs.”


“I think it's a worthy art form and should be encouraged.”


Status: Resident “ It basically means that her husband's sex life with her is damaged as a result of this. Which sounds completely ridiculous.”


Status: Member “so how do these people even find out in the first place that their doc branded their uterus?”


Status: Pre-Medical “What?! Are you serious? Branding a uterus after a hysterectomy is nowhere on the same level as raping/mutilating a dead body.


Also, isn't it very likely that the physician and patient knew what was wrong with the uterus before they removed it? I mean, if they wanted to find out the disease status of the uterus, they would've done a biopsy rather than remove the entire thing, wouldn't you say? Not that I'm defending the physician, but who cares if a uterus that was removed and is about to be discarded/incinerated was branded with the patient's initials? You really consider that to be a hate crime? I really don't know what to say...”



Learn more about the lifelong functions of the female organs at www.hersfoundation.org.

 

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Saturday, August 28, 2010

Healthcare "Good News" is Often Bad News For Women

  • You don't need a doctor, you don't want a doctor, so here's $150 to see one anyway — employers offer cash incentives to participate in wellness programs
  • Was your hysterectomy too slow?   14 year old boy invents a timesaving surgical technique
  • Two tickets for hysterectomy, please!  how to turn a trip to the operating room into an all expenses paid vacation

At first blush, these three news bites seem like good news. Lurking beyond the silver linings, though, are the dark clouds of some very unhealthy trends. Let’s take a look at each one in more detail.

Good News #1: Many news writers claim that corporate wellness programs reduce healthcare costs, increase productivity, and improve morale. As Melissa McNamara reported in a CBS News online story titled Wellness Programs May Trim Health Costs, “the company—and its employees—save by preventing heart attacks and obesity. ‘We believe that prevention is the right way to go,’" said the head of IBM’s human resources department interviewed in the article (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/01/22/eveningnews/main2386130.shtml).
Many wellness programs also encourage routine checkups and screening. In the same article, McNamara reports that IBM gives its employees $150 for filling out a “health record, which flags employees to their individual risk of disease.”
What the article fails to point out is that while disease treatment accounts for a major portion of the healthcare dollars spent in this country, misdiagnosed diseases and unnecessary medicine also account for a major portion of our healthcare spending. As health reform advocate and writer Ivan Illich put it, “Unnecessary surgery is a standard procedure.”
Looking for problems in healthy people is unhealthy. Routine medical screenings perpetuate the idea that our bodies are ticking time bombs, ready to explode if they are not routinely inspected for any possible abnormality. Routinized poking and prodding of vaginas, cervixes, uteri, and ovaries is unnatural and may cause pain, discomfort, and millions of unnecessary procedures and surgeries each year, causing far more damage than they prevent.
One of the most common scenarios resulting in unnecessary surgery is the routine wellness exam. And perhaps the most routinized of all exams is the Pap smear, which is part of most gynecological checkups.
The Pap smear is often praised because it may detect cervical cancer. But with about 11,000 cases of cervical cancer detected each year in the U.S. (1/10th of 1% of the female population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics), cervical cancer is only slightly more prevalent than the incidence of testicular and penile cancer.
What’s more, pap smears are prone to a high percentage of errors. One report puts the error rate of false-positive results—tests that say women have cancer when they actually don’t—at a whopping 44.8%.
Hormonal contraception and false-positive cervical cytology: is there an association? Hoekstra AV, Kosinski A, Huh WK , J Low Genit Tract Dis. 2006 Apr;10(2):102-6 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16633239).
Gynecological exams performed during a so-called well-woman visit are all too often invitations to unnecessary treatment. Nearly all hysterectomies are performed for benign conditions—fibroids, ovarian cysts, “abnormal” cells, or an age bias. And hysterectomy rates vary wildly across the country—highest in the South, lowest in the Northeast.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) reports that in the last decade on average 621,000 hysterectomies were performed each year, making it the most common non-obstetric surgery performed in the U.S. According to the Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services (HERS) Foundation, about 98% of those surgeries could be avoided with more conservative treatment—or by not undergoing routine gynecological exams in the first place.
Incentivizing exercise and healthy eating may be money well spent. But as was reported in the National Association of Health Underwriters magazine (http://hersfoundation.org/press_news.htm), eliminating medically unwarranted hysterectomies could save our medical system more than $17B each year.
Good News #2: On June 16, 2009 the Indianapolis Recorder published Jackie Jones’ article “Black Youth Invents Surgical Technique–at 14.” In the article Jones claims that a Florida boy’s surgical technique can be completed “in a third of the time of traditional surgery” (http://www.indianapolisrecorder.com/articles/2009/06/18/news/national/doc4a382654df4fd264703245.txt).
This story is intriguing on many levels. First, there is the surgery in question—hysterectomy. Then there’s the question of why, with thousands of surgeons performing millions of hysterectomies, it took an inexperienced boy to figure out what all those trained surgeons did not. And then there’s the question of who exactly benefits from faster hysterectomies?
Hysterectomy is widely considered the most over-utilized non-obstetric surgery performed in the U.S., second only to C-sections. A hysterectomy is performed every minute of every hour of every day. According to the NIH, one out of every three women in America has been hysterectomized by age 60. Considering these staggering statistics, faster surgeries may be good news for the doctors, hospitals, device manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies who profit from them, but speeding up the hysterectomy assembly line is bad news for the women who undergo the surgery.
“High school internships and other programs,” Jones reported in the same Indianapolis Recorder article, “are being used by educators to boost the number of young people interested in medicine in the face of projections that there will be a doctor deficit of as many as 200,000 physicians by 2020.” But with vast numbers of unnecessary knee, back, heart, and female pelvic surgeries, is the prospect of fewer surgeons bad news or good news?
And what was the boy who invented this surgical technique taught about the consequences of the surgery he sought to “improve?” One wonders if he would have been inspired to do so if he understood the irreversible damage caused by amputating the uterus.
No matter how good the surgeon’s skill or technique, and no matter what type of hysterectomy is performed, the result is the same: the important lifelong functions of a hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ are permanently gone.
For more information about the consequences of hysterectomy, watch the HERS Foundation’s video “Female Anatomy: the Functions of the Female Organs” at http://www.hersfoundation.com/anatomy/index.html.
Good News #3: Surgeries performed abroad cost less than surgeries performed in the U.S. So much so that employers who are eager to keep down healthcare costs have begun providing incentives to employees who are willing to leave the country for surgery.
Entering an operating room is a frightening experience in any country. But as Parija Kavilanz reported in an CNNMoney.com article titled “Surgery and sightseeing on your boss' dime,” surgery for Tina Follett was transformed into a luxurious vacation (http://money.cnn.com/2010/08/11/news/companies/health_care_medical_travel/).
To entice them to seek a cheaper surgery in Panama than what was available in California, Patrick’s employer offered the couple free airfare for two, full medical coverage, free hotel, a complimentary concierge, car service, an interpreter, sightseeing, and a two-week $120 per day allowance. In Tina’s words, “It's been a phenomenal experience, almost like a hotel, and it has cost us absolutely nothing
most consistent problems women experience after hysterectomy—no matter how seductive a free exotic vacation may be—include a loss of sexual feeling, a loss of vitality, a 25-pound weight gain in the first year following the surgery, joint pain, profound fatigue, and personality change.
And contrary to the CBS News article mentioned in Good News #1, preventative checkups that lead to unnecessary hysterectomies will result in a significant increase in heart disease and obesity. Hysterectomized women have a three-times greater incidence of myocardial infarction (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7457522). When the ovaries are removed, women have a seven-times greater incidence of heart disease.
In the CNNMoney.com article, Kavilanz was not reporting on the dark cloud of tens of millions of American women coping with the aftermath of hysterectomy. The article was concerned with the silver lining—a California couple enjoying an all expenses paid vacation to Panama in exchange for saving the company a few bucks on the amputation of Tina’s uterus. Hopefully I’m not the only person reading this article who asked, so what exactly are the female organs worth?
These three articles demonstrate an inherent bias in news reporting in favor of positive findings that artificially support the value of medicine. Likewise, there’s an inherent bias against publishing stories that report negative findings that are unprofitable to the medical industry.
The devil is in the details. It would be wonderful if all reporters were encouraged and compensated to provide thorough investigations of the stories they are assigned to. When that is not the case, we are left to dig deeper ourselves, otherwise we may learn the hard way that good healthcare news is often bad news for women.
Improving employee health and workplace morale is a good thing. But most women who contact the HERS Foundation would trade a lifetime of vacations to get their uterus back again.

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Thursday, July 15, 2010

HERS 2010 Hysterectomy Conference: an extraordinary day

On April 24th, 2010 an unusual meeting took place. The HERS Hysterectomy Conference was held in New York. Educators and advocates gathered to discuss the alternatives to and consequences of hysterectomy and to arm women with information.

The Keynote Speaker, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney(NY), a strong advocate for women’s rights, civil rights and human rights, showed unprecedented legislative support for HERS work to educate the public about the consequences of hysterectomy and our determination that women must be armed with this information before being told to sign a hysterectomy consent form. She noted that despite numerous studies, as early as 1948, which reported the high percentage of medically unwarranted hysterectomies being performed, medical practice has yet to change. “We are still experiencing an epidemic of hysterectomies,” she said, “Where is the outrage?”

Sybil Shainwald focuses her litigation practice on women’s health issues. In her talk, “The Medicalization of Women,” she explored the economic motivation to perform unwarranted surgery. “According to the western model, pre-menstrual syndrome is a disease, menopause is a disease, pregnancy is a disease, childbirth is a disease. From this model I reached the conclusion that being a woman is a disease!”

We had the rare experience of listening to a practicing gynecologist, Mitchell Levine, as he said that “hysterectomy is never ever needed for fibroids." Even more astonishing was hearing a gynecologist acknowledge, “…if you listen to women you get a sense of just how devastating this can be. Our arrogance in saying if we just take out this thing and you’ll be fine, it’s not that simple, it’s too sacred it’s too beautiful, it’s too complex to just go in there and just take things out.” It was an exceptional experience to have a gynecologist who truly cares about what is being done to women who sincerely wants to educate the public about the functions of the female organs and their critical importance to a woman’s health and well-being her entire life.

A panel of four women discussed their experiences with hysterectomies done by different doctors, in different circumstances, in different parts of the world, with the same outcomes. It is a tremendous act of courage for private people to reveal publicly their most personal experiences. They come together with the common goal to inform other women about the true consequences of hysterectomy and castration. They want women to be armed with the information needed if they are told a hysterectomy is “necessary”, and to spread the word so that what was done to them will not be done to the next generation. These are the voices of experience:

     Jen Bandes, hysterectomized and castrated at 19 years old. “What more could I have asked for, it   seemed liked a miracle solution, and a miracle surgery, or so it was presented to me.”
     • Tawanda Queen, an IT professional. “The doctor eyed me carefully when I inquired as to why hysterectomy was mentioned on the consent form, was I in danger of having one? She said “No” and proceeded to remove her female organs.
     • Nicole Choate, an RN for sixteen years. “My uterus had ruptured and nobody could give me a reason why. There are several possible reasons, maybe the Cervidil, and I was on a Pitocin drip.”
     • Xiomara Calle, business owner. “He said I had fibroids, many fibroids, and I needed to have surgery. This is my doctor of almost 30 years.” She thought she could trust him.
     • Sylvia Gill, living a full, vibrant life in Broxburn, UK, “There was nothing untoward inside, so everything looked okay? She nodded yes.” Her excised uterus and ovaries had been normal.

Indiana State Representative Bruce Borders is a fearless fighter for Hysterectomy Video Informed Consent. When Indiana legislators chose to hear testimony about puppy mills over the most important human rights issue ever to come before them, Rep. Borders challenged that they cared more about their pets than their own wives, mothers, sisters and daughters. The hearing on hysterectomy consent was reinstated. A gynecologist said to Rep. Borders and his wife Lola, just before her surgery, “Don’t worry, we’re taking away the cradle but the playpen will be as good as new”.

Genevieve Carminati, English Professor, Coordinator Women’s Studies Program and writer. When asked to use one word that is important to women to write about in a book to be given to legislators, she chose Uterus. "There are few words so distinctly related to woman. Yet we rarely use it unless we are describing something medical or an illness. It is not an attractive word, certainly not in the way it sounds, almost like a hawk, or something caustic, or a demand U TER US. It does not describe in the lilting way vagina does something precious, something lovely, something that is easy to claim. But the uterus is a vital organ, vital to the race. It’s the room that forms us all and nurtures our gestation, and it is vital to our being as women. To our quality of life, providing a center for so much of who and what we are.”

Robert E. Myers, Senior Trial Attorney and Medical Malpractice lawyer, “When you seek out an attorney for representation, an attorney is not a medical specialist. If you go to an attorney to talk about a possible medical negligence case, do all the research you can do about the medicine yourself. Write a chronology of what happened to you so the person who is a non-doctor can understand what happened to you…it’s not just the wrongful removal of an organ, it’s also how it affects the rest of your life. It’s difficult to just tell somebody – you’re walking around, there’s no scars, there’s no bleeding, you didn’t lose an arm, you didn’t lose a leg…that’s one of the most difficult things, not just to convince a lawyer, but you’ve got to convince a jury ultimately.”

During the final hour of the conference there was a lively discussion between the speakers and the attendees. Speakers answered questions they not address during their talks. There was animated discussion about how and why this unacceptable surgical abuse of women continues unrestricted in a civilized society.

At HERS unique conference every person had a voice, every woman, man and child.

Make your voice heard about the highly uncivilized and unacceptable practice of withholding information about the consequences of hysterectomy.

To order full conference and individual talks on DVD, email jkabak@hersfoundation.org or call 610.667.7757.

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Indiana PPAN and Indiana ACLU Chapters Oppose Informed Consent

The Hysterectomy Educational Resources and Services (HERS) Foundation, a non-profit international women’s health education organization, held its 28th annual conference in New York City on Saturday, April 24, 2010. The focus of the conference—hysterectomy informed consent legislation—recently drew opposing comments from representatives of two non-profit groups.

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), an ardent women’s rights advocate, delivered the Keynote Address at the conference. State Representative Bruce Borders (R-IN), who recently proposed hysterectomy informed consent legislation in the form of House Bill 1366, addressed what voters can do to help bring about meaningful legislation to counteract the more than 621,000 hysterectomies performed each year on women in the U.S. who are not provided with information that is required for informed consent.

For nearly three decades, the HERS Foundation has been asking the question, who would deny women the anatomical facts that are requisite to hysterectomy informed consent? When this question was posed in an Indiana House of Representatives hearing, the Indiana Hospital Association and a gynecologist who claimed to represent the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) voiced opposition to HB1366. As did Planned Parenthood Action Network (PPAN) of Indiana and Indiana ACLU.



Planned Parenthood has long opposed video consent legislation, such as the one currently in place in Utah.[1] And in a missive PPAN of Indiana recently sent to its followers, they said of HB1366, “Thank you to all of our supporters who spoke out against this incredibly unjust and unnecessary bill.”[2] The HERS Foundation and other supporters of the bill welcome a public dialogue with representatives of PPAN to discuss their perception of how educating women about the anatomical facts of a life-altering surgery is “unjust and unnecessary” and the HERS position that informed consent is both just and necessary.

Indiana ACLU board member Joan Laskowski claimed that HB1366 “compromises dignity and autonomy protected by reproductive liberty.”[3] HERS also seeks a public dialogue with Indiana ACLU representatives who support Laskowski’s position that informed consent “compromises” rather than ensures dignity, autonomy, and liberty. In his book Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility (MIT Press, 2005), Alfred I. Tauber unwaveringly states that informed consent supports autonomy and preserves dignity. I attempted to speak with Laskowski regarding her stance on a woman’s right to information required for informed consent. She restated her opinion and then ended the phone call, denying me the opportunity to speak.

HERS Foundation supporters include women and men from all political parties and from both sides of the abortion debate. Hysterectomy and abortion are about very different issues that should not be confused. Hysterectomy limits “reproductive liberty” in women who would choose to have children. Informed consent guarantees liberty and autonomy.

Hysterectomy is the surgical removal of the uterus, a hormone-responsive reproductive sex organ. Removal of the uterus impacts every cell in a woman’s body. Information about the consequences of the surgery is every woman’s right to know, prior to being told to sign a hysterectomy consent form.

Women scheduled for hysterectomies who watch HERS’ 12-minute video Female Anatomy: the Functions of the Female Organs report to HERS that they canceled their surgeries. Approximately 29% of medical expenditures are surgery-related, and hysterectomy is the most commonly performed non-obstetric surgery performed in the U.S.[4]

Hysterectomy represents more than $17B a year to the medical industry. If hysterectomies that are not life saving cease to be performed, hospitals and gynecologists will no longer benefit from more than half a million medically unwarranted hysterectomies performed each year. But the question remains unanswered why the Indiana representatives of two venerated non-profit organizations have mounted opposition to informed consent.

At issue here is medical ethics. Just as well-informed voters are at the heart of the American political system, no woman can be said to have provided consent without full, accurate information about the alternatives to and consequences of removal of her female organs prior to hysterectomy.

Politicians from both sides of the aisle have stepped forward in support of the HERS Foundation’s mandate to put information about the consequences of hysterectomy into informed consent. Borders, whose talk at the HERS conference was titled "Your Vote is Mightier than the Lobbyist's Dollar,” expressed surprise that two organizations one would expect to be natural allies of his bill not only did not support it but voiced opposition to it.



[1] Utah Criminal Code, Title 76, Offenses Against the Family, Section 305.5 Requirements for printed materials and informational video, http://le.utah.gov/~code/TITLE76/htm/76_07_030505.htm
[2] Planned Parenthood Indiana, “IGA Update,” email, February 9, 2010.
[3] Joan Laskowski, VP Legislation, ACLU - IN Board Member, “Legislation Update At Mid-Session,” http://www.aclu-in.org/2010_general_assembly_at_midsession.
[4] Muñoz, Eric; Muñoz, William III; Wise, Leslie, “National and Surgical Health Care Expenditures, 2005-2025,” Annals of Surgery, February 2010, pp 195-200.


Nora W. Coffey, President
610-667-7757
888-750-HERS

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

CONGRESSWOMAN MALONEY TO DELIVER KEYNOTE ADDRESS




CONGRESSWOMAN MALONEY TO DELIVER KEYNOTE ADDRESS
Momentum Builds For Hysterectomy Informed Consent Legislation

What is so important about HERS Hysterectomy Conference on April 24th, 2010 and a screening of "un becoming" April 23rd, 2010 in New York City that a couple is driving from Florida and sleeping in a tent because they can’t afford a hotel room;  a woman who is unemployed and on disability is sharing a ride with a co-worker and driving cross country; and a woman living in rural England is traveling 3,346 miles to America with her husband?

Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) will deliver the Keynote Address at the HERS Foundation’s Twenty-Eighth Hysterectomy Conference, Saturday April 24th at the Hilton New York in Manhattan. Maloney is a tireless advocate for women’s rights, and she has pledged to do what is needed to ensure that women are given the information about the consequences of hysterectomy that is required for informed consent.  

State Representative Bruce Borders (IN) is a fearless fighter for Hysterectomy Video Informed Consent. Rep. Borders voiced his outrage when Indiana legislators chose to hear testimony about puppy mills over the most important human rights issue to ever come before them. He challenged fellow legislators that they cared more about their pets than their own wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters until the hearing on Hysterectomy Informed Consent was reinstated.  

Dr. Mitchell Levine, a leading medical expert will provide information every woman needs to know about diagnostic studies to evaluate symptoms, alternatives in treatment, and coping with the consequences of hysterectomy. Robert E. Myers, a senior trial attorney, will talk about medical malpractice issues. A panel of women who have undergone the surgery will share information about the impact of hysterectomy on their lives. Panel moderator, HERS president, Nora W. Coffey, will discuss the functional and anatomic changes responsible for the loss of sexuality, the role of the uterus and ovaries in maintaining normal endocrine function and living with hysterectomy-caused physical, family, professional and social problems.  

Everyone knows a woman who is silently suffering from the damaging effects of hysterectomy. As Tawanda Queen said in her testimony before the Health Committee in Indiana about life after hysterectomy, “I reduced my life down to the bare minimum in an attempt to continue working…and to give the appearance of normalcy...what I realized after my experience with informed consent for hysterectomy is that I had no business making any decisions concerning fibroids without having knowledge of my anatomy or an understanding of fibroids.”  

Join the growing number of people going to the conference to tell Congresswoman Maloney and Rep. Borders that they are with HERS and with them 100% in support of changing the Hysterectomy Informed Consent Law NOW!

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Gynecologists Target Teenagers With Video Game Hysterectomy

The news recently reported that high school teenagers across the country are being shown a hysterectomy performed by a gynecologist-controlled robot. The surgery is streamed from a computer into the classroom. The gynecologist sits across the room from a woman who is strapped to an operating table, remotely controlling the robot performing a hysterectomy with the new expensive Da Vinci robot characterized as “a video game”. With the Da Vinci robotic hysterectomy video game, doctors don’t even touch women while they hysterectomize them.The doctor, hospital and school say they want to “educate everyone and draw more people into medicine,” but it is important to note that the students are not informed about female anatomy and the consequences when the uterus is removed. Instead of explaining the damaging effects of hysterectomy, students learn that it is more like a video game than major surgery, and they look forward to it as entertainment.

In high school auditoriums in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, gynecologist Marcia Bowling, shows the students how to amputate a uterus from a woman for hard to manage bleeding and abdominal pain that they think is caused by fibroids. Bowling, is sitting at a video game terminal using her fingers and a foot control. Even though the stated goal is supposedly to educate, Bowling makes no attempt to perform a myomectomy (surgical removal of fibroids leaving the uterus intact) nor does she inform the students that by amputating this woman’s uterus, it increases her risk for heart disease, lung cancer, and an Alzheimer’s like dementia. The surgery is compared to entertainment, “Students watched it live from Christ's auditorium, as engaged by the images as they would be watching a first-run movie.”

In the second article, gynecologist James Martin sits at a machine across the room from the operating table, remotely controlling the arms of the robot with a joy stick, while he amputates the uterus. No information is given in the article about why the woman’s uterus is being amputated, or the associated health risks and the damaging effects of of the surgery.

The Da Vinci robot system costs approximately $1.5 million. If the hospital makes approximately $5,000 for each hysterectomy, they will have to hysterectomize 3000 women to recoup the initial investment.  By streaming hysterectomy surgery into the classroom, large populations of students, teachers and staff are being subliminally programmed that hysterectomy has no negative effects. This is unabashed promotion of hysterectomy to unknowing children who lack the maturity and experience to understand the life altering nature of the surgery they are witnessing.

Teaching children sex education in school has been always been a controversial issue, so you might wonder why there is no controversy when a gynecologist is invited into a high school classroom to show teenagers a woman’s sex organs being removed and her vagina shortened, while making it sound like a fun video game. Would parents feel differently if they realized that 1 out of 3 of their daughters will be hysterectomized before they turn 60 years old?

As for what the students really learned, the following quotes show the impact this omission of critical information has on teenagers:

! “Keifer Eubank, a Ryle High senior from Union, said he recently dissected a sheep brain, but this was much better.”

! Antonett Fowler, a junior at Woodward High School said,  "I was more fascinated than I was disgusted," she said. "(Bowling) wasn't even sitting by the patient. I kept thinking, 'How is she doing that?"

! Kelcy Tobey said, "It's the real stuff; it's no soap opera...I could see myself being a part of that."

! “Burke High School senior Shanevia Minus…was one of the students in a health science technology class eager to watch a doctor perform a hysterectomy.  Her class was one of 15 in Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester county high schools that streamed the surgery from a computer onto a screen in their classrooms.”

This is not only a disservice to education, but it teaches kids that removing female sex organs is inconsequential and fun, like playing a video game.

If a hysterectomy is ever recommended to Shanevia, or any of the students who watched the surgery and they were informed of only the mechanics of taking out the female organs and why, her frame of reference will be a cool robotic surgery that she saw in a high school class.  Would she be as eager to have her female organs removed as she was to watch a robotic hysterectomy if she had been taught that during a hysterectomy a hormone responsive reproductive sex organ is removed, the vagina is shortened and sutured shut at the top, the support to the bladder, bowel and pelvic floor is compromised, and hysterectomized women have a 3X greater incidence of heart disease? If the intent was to educate students, the key words would be “increased incidence of heart disease, hormone-responsive, sex organ, loss of uterine orgasm, shortened vagina, damaged pelvic floor”, and not “robot, eager, just go for it, Da Vinci, soap opera, and real stuff”.

You can read and comment on these articles at:

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Robotic medical arms race - timesfreepress.com

Robotic medical arms race - timesfreepress.com


Gynecologist Del Ashcraft brags about his race to remove a woman's sex organs in 20 minutes. Let the Chattanooga Free Press and their readers know what you think about the barbaric quest to remove the hormone responsive reproductive sex organs from 621,000 women a year in the U.S.

The CDC reports that one out of three women undergo hysterectomy by the age of 60 as inpatients. The number of outpatient hysterectomies is rapidly rising with the promotion of so-called  "minimally invasive" hysterectomy. Although this implies that the surgery is less damaging, in fact it is as damaging as if the female organs were removed by "magic", without an incision. Regardless of the method, by human hands or human controlled machines, the result is the same, a woman's sex organs are removed and she will no longer experience uterine orgasm, and she will have an increased risk of heart disease, dementia, lung cancer and osteoporosis.

It's doubtful Ashcraft would enjoy his surgeon bragging about her race to remove his penis and testicles in record time, untouched by human hands. The cool metal digits of a robot and the joy stick that controls it in her excited remotely stationed hands.

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Congresswoman Maloney (NY) To Be Keynote Speaker at Hysterectomy Conference April 24th, 2010


Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney (NY) will deliver the Keynote Address at the HERS Foundation’s 28th Hysterectomy Conference, Saturday April 23rd at the Hilton Hotel in Manhattan.

Maloney, a Democrat from New York, is a powerful advocate for women’s rights, allied with such organizations as Emily’s List and the National Organization for Women. In 2008, she published “Rumors of Our Progress Have Been Greatly Exaggerated," a book that details the ongoing struggle women encounter on a number of fronts, including equal pay, politics, and healthcare.


State Representative Bruce Borders (IN) will discuss Hysterectomy Informed Consent legislation he introduced this year. Women   and men from around the country will be there to voice their support for hysterectomy informed consent legislation.

 Borders, a Republican from Indiana, recently proposed Hysterectomy Informed Consent legislation. His talk, "Your Vote is Mightier than the Lobbyist's Dollar," will address the legislative process and what conference speakers and attendees can do to enact meaningful legislation to counteract the more than 621,000 hysterectomies performed each year on women in the U.S. The information that is requisite to informed consent must be provided to every woman.

“un becoming,” by Rick Schweikert, will be screened on the eve of the conference. An explosive play written in the rich tradition of American political theater, “un becoming” premiered Off Broadway in 2004. It portrays the physical, political, economic, and social issues surrounding hysterectomy. The screening will be followed by a talkback with Schweikert and HERS President, Nora W. Coffey.

The public forum of the conference, combined with the imperative for hysterectomy informed consent legislation, will be embraced in a town hall style discussion at the conclusion of the day’s agenda, which can be viewed at http://hersfoundation.org/conference.html

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