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Update: Rep. Maloney Not Considering a Cautionary Bill on Hysterectomy

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NOTE: We just received a note from Rep. Maloney's office stating that the Congresswoman is not introducing the bill mandating the video, which was discussed in my blog. Apparently her office had asked the source of my blog, from which my information was gathered, to update this information, and that was not done. That is why the error was made. So no such bill is being introduced by Rep. Maloney.

According to WeNews correspondent Frances Cerra Whittelsey, Rep. Carolyn Maloney from New York is considering the feasibility of legally requiring doctors to warn women about the impact of hysterectomies. Maloney believes that 90 percent of them are avoidable.

Maloney made this pledge at the 28th annual conference of HERS, a foundation whose aim is to reduce the number of hysterectomies.

Maloney, a Democrat from Manhattan, said, “Ninety percent of hysterectomy patients who opt for the surgery have non-cancerous, non-life-threatening ailments for which there are alternative, less invasive procedures. Where is the outrage?”

A representative for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said that the college doesn’t have statistics on the surgery or the reasons why it’s done, so she cannot check or confirm the 90 percent figure. The representative said that the college doesn’t support mandating or legislating informed consent for any condition, according to the WeNews article.

Approximately 600,000 women in the United States have hysterectomies every year. Nora Coffey, founder of HERS, said that it is rare for the women to hear from their doctors about adverse effects, other than the obvious one of not being able to bear children.

The HERS foundation was started 28 years ago in order to educate women concerning the effects of losing their reproductive and sex organs. It was also intended as a place for women to share stories about their surgeries. This organization has a video “explaining how and why many women suffer a loss of libido, urinary incontinence and a host of other debilitating and painful health problems when their uteruses--and often their ovaries are removed,” according to Whittelsey.

The HERS foundation is supporting a law that would require doctors to show the video to women 48 hours before they agree to the surgery. Right now there is no law that requires video consent, that is being introduced in any state.
Astonishingly, women who were at the conference reported that their doctors said they didn’t need their uteruses and ovaries after having had families, and gave the justification for taking out healthy ovaries as a way to lower the risk of ovarian cancer.

According to a 2005 article in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, the removal of the uterus alone reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 40 percent. The article concludes that “at no age is there a clear benefit” from the removal of healthy ovaries. Approximately half of the women who have hysterectomies each year, also lose their ovaries at the same time.

Add a Comment14 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Thanks Anna. You're so right about the emotional being just as bad as the physical. These doctors should be held accountable, but instead they are rewarded. I was able to sue the doctor who did this to me only to find out he wasn't insured (which is also common) and then at trial it was four doctors against one, and the jury decided to believe the four. Not only are these doctors well protected, no one cares. I contacted the insurance company fraud division, the county prosecutor and even the Governor and was just blown off. It's hard to believe this is the United States of America anymore. I think these doctors have done this to women for so long and gotten away with it that they are really brazen. They know the victim has no recourse, so it gives them open season. It's a nightmare.

May 29, 2010 - 3:43pm
(reply to Anonymous)

It does sound like a nightmare. You certainly took a lot of action to achieve justice. Congratulations on your efforts. I believe that doctors are often placed on pedestals, and that could explain the jury's decision, as bad as it was. I wish more women would do what you did, and then there might be less unnecessary hysterectomies. It is time to put a stop to this.

May 30, 2010 - 9:54am

I am really shocked by the fact that you did not give your consent and yet woke up with a hysterectomy. I cannot imagine what you went through, and how you still continue to suffer from this. What an outrage! I believe that this is the type of operation that not only affects women physically in a profound way, but that also affects them emotionally in just the same way.
The word has to get out about all these unnecessary hysterectomies. Doctors connected with this type of form of surgery should be held accountable. This is not true healing.

May 29, 2010 - 9:12am
EmpowHER Guest

When I say I didn't consent, I mean I adamantly stated I did not want a hysterectomy, yet woke up with one anyway. I was and am still devastated by it. I had no idea they were doing this to women until shortly after when I found the HERS Foundation. Since then, I've heard about this happening to many women when they only agree to have a cyst or tumor removed. The typical line from the doctor is," well I won't know exactly until I get in there." That forces women to open the door for a possible hysterectomy, but the doctor tells them that it won't really happen, it just in case he finds cancer or something that it needs to be included on the consent form as a possibility. These doctors are very tricky, and of course they'd have to be since they've done this to 1 out of 2 women under the age of 65.

May 28, 2010 - 1:50pm
EmpowHER Guest

Some women are asking, as in the women who's lives have been affected by hysterectomy, women who have been involved in women's medical rigths issues, women (like Congresswoman Maloney), and HERS. The problem is with responses (at least publicly) from the medical community like AGOGs, we know nothing. Also, I believe HERS intent is to get women accurately informed. Once that takes place, what women decide as to whether or not to have a hysterectomy is their choice. Under the current practice, women are not provided informed consent, and consequenctly are not truly given a choice. Maybe that's the way AGOG wants to keep it.

May 28, 2010 - 9:46am
EmpowHER Guest

Thanks so much for posting this. I was given an unnecessary hysterectomy and my ovaries were removed after going to the Emergency Room in pain after being drugged into oblivion and pressured into surgery. I did ask questions and didn't even consent. However, I think most women are deceived by gynecologists they trust where they've been a patient for many years. If a doctor delivers your babies and helps you over a 20 year period, it's hard to imagine that the same doctor would push an unnecessary surgery on you. Another way is that women are often told they might have cancer and end up hysterectomized even when no cancer is found. I think the only way for a woman to protect herself is to be armed with the knowledge that HERS provides, and to understand that this has been done to 1 out of 2 women under the age of 65, and so it's dangerous for any woman to go in an operating room. For ACOG to deny they know anything about this is deceitful.

May 28, 2010 - 8:44am
(reply to Anonymous)

Thank you so much for your comments. I deeply sympathize with you and what you went through. I realize that even trustworthy doctors might make the wrong recommendations. Therefore, you are so right in saying that the only way for a woman to protect herself is to have plenty of information. Women should also ask a lot of questions. The key is for women to empower themselves.

May 28, 2010 - 9:29am

Consider that a hysterectomy is a huge operation, with everlasting consequences. You have to ask why have so many unnecessary ones been performed over the last several years. Actually, women have to start asking these questions.

May 28, 2010 - 7:54am
EmpowHER Guest

You have to really wonder when they don't even seem to care in the slightest. If an appliance repair man performed the same percentage of unnecessary repairs (90%), the state would be prosecuting him. Seems like the fox tending the hen house.

May 27, 2010 - 9:46pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Oh yeah, it would be like BP not noticing there's an oil spill.

May 28, 2010 - 6:56am
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