The Dark History Behind the ‘Father of Modern Gynecology’

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WNYC The Takeaway, January 22, 2019

For 80 years, a bronze statue of 19th-century doctor James Marion Sims stood in New York City’s Central Park. Sims’s major achievement was developing a technique to repair painful fistulas, or tears resulting from childbirth often between the birth canal and the urethra or rectum. He has often been called the “father of modern gynecology.”

But public outrage about how Sims did that work — by experimenting on enslaved black women — forced NYC officials to finally remove the statue in 2018.

Playwright Charly Evon Simpson’s new play “Behind the Sheet” reckons with Sims’ work and the women who had to suffer for it. 


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