According to the Chicago Tribune, a young woman in Arizona, woke up from surgery to hear that her doctors had performed an unauthorized pelvic exam on her. She was no longer just a patient but a victim of sexual assault. This actually happens more than anyone expects. A practice intended to teach medical students to look for cervical and vaginal abnormalities, seemingly does more harm than good to women. This could easily be avoided by simply waking and asking the women if they could examine them for the purposes of educating students.
This practice continues to happen because the controversial examinations do not seemingly get enough attention. In 2003 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists went against the accepted assumption that the examination of anesthetized women was moral. Soon the Association of American Medical Colleges found that these “teaching exams” are unethical and unacceptable. From the testimonies of residents, students, legal experts, California, Hawaii, Iowa, Oregon, and Virginia have made it illegal to examine patients without their consent.
So why don’t the healthcare professionals just ask, instead of treating female patients like cadavers? Well they state that they don’t ask because women would be more inclined to say no than to agree to an examination. Which is actually not the truth, lots of women consent to pelvic exams for educational purposes. The healthcare professionals also justify the examination by stating that these examinations are appropriate after a surgical procedure.
No matter the excuse or reason, healthcare professionals need to ask women before they conduct pelvic exams. Unfortunately, it takes massive movements, like the Me Too movement, in order for something to be done about sexual assault nationwide. Healthcare professionals should just ask, and aim to heal women, not harm them.