In April 2018, after years of controversy, New York City removed a statue of Dr J. Marion Sims from Central Park across from the New York Academy of Medicine. For decades, Sims had been a polarizing figure. He was praised as a “father of modern gynecology” for his pathbreaking surgical treatment of vesico-vaginal fistula, but vilified because he developed the technique by experimenting on enslaved women in Alabama in the 1840s.
The Sims debate echoed other national controversies about monuments celebrating Confederate-era individuals; specifically, whether such statues celebrated true heroes or abhorrent values, and whether removing them disrespected the past or honored the present. The Sims controversy also cast a harsh light on medicine and its notable figures and provided an opportunity to consider how medicine deals with questions of race, disease, and difference.
Identify all potential conflicts of interest that might be relevant to your comment.
Conflicts of interest comprise financial interests, activities, and relationships within the past 3 years including but not limited to employment, affiliation, grants or funding, consultancies, honoraria or payment, speaker's bureaus, stock ownership or options, expert testimony, royalties, donation of medical equipment, or patents planned, pending, or issued.
Err on the side of full disclosure.
If you have no conflicts of interest, check "No potential conflicts of interest" in the box below. The information will be posted with your response.
Not all submitted comments are published. Please see our commenting policy for details.
Wailoo K. Historical Aspects of Race and Medicine: The Case of J. Marion Sims. JAMA. 2018;320(15):1529–1530. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.11944
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.
Create a personal account or sign in to: