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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 610.667.7757.
Labels: alternatives, Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney, consequences, HERS Foundation, hysterectomy, hysterectomy information