End Forced Pelvic and Rectal Exams on Anesthetized Patients in South Carolina

End Forced Pelvic and Rectal Exams on Anesthetized Patients in South Carolina

1,511 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!
Naomi Harding started this petition

For most of us, facing general anesthesia for a medical procedure can be a little scary. But most people in South Carolina are unaware that they may have more to be concerned about than their planned procedure. Imagine learning that someone you never met performed a pelvic or rectal exam on you while you were under anesthesia for a completely different procedure. What if several people had performed these procedures on you without your knowledge? I would feel violated and I’m sure most of you would as well.

Many of you might be thinking, “That couldn’t happen. Don’t they have to have my permission?” Well, it turns out that the medical consent form language at most teaching hospitals is vague enough that this practice is allowed in states across the country.

Today, medical students can perform vaginal and/or rectal exams on anesthetized patients without explicit consent in 24 states. Often the exams aren’t event related to the treatment the patients are receiving.

I found this practice completely shocking and I’m sure you do as well. In 2021, several states have had bills introduced to require explicit consent from patients.  I first learned about it when I saw a petition by Livia Fry and Warriors C.A.R.E. and I have included excerpts from her original petition here.

“Because of language commonly found in medical consent forms, teaching hospitals can have a lot of leeway in the way they use their patients in their teaching practices. Language in consent forms is often written to be broad, particularly surrounding the role of students and trainees in the provision of healthcare, which in many cases consists of only one or two lines, and follows the following formula: “I understand that students and trainees may be involved in my care and consent to treatment by providers in the event of unforeseen events or complications.” Those one or two lines are typically buried in the middle or at the end of a form, which patients often report being rushed to sign by providers or administrators as they are “standard.” 

Most patients assume “student involvement” - unless otherwise specified - is limited to observation.”

“We aren’t asking for much. We aren’t asking teaching institutions to sacrifice the educational opportunities they offer their students, or to take opportunities away from students. We are simply insisting that those opportunities only be offered with the consent of the patients whose bodies they are using. We are insisting that exploitation and abuse no longer play a role in the medical education of our state’s future doctors, and that they are taught the importance of consent early on. And we are insisting that our laws protect us from the dehumanization and indignity of being turned into living teaching tools without our consent. Hospitals exist to serve their patients - patients do not exist to serve hospitals, and we do not owe hospitals the use of our bodies in exchange for necessary healthcare.”

If you are a South Carolina resident just becoming aware of this practice, please join us in standing up and saying enough by signing this petition and contacting your state representative and senator. If you live outside of South Carolina, please stand in solidarity with our state’s residents and in demanding justice and protection for us when we are at our most vulnerable.

If you are a South Carolina resident, please consider reaching out to your state representative (if you unsure of who yours is, you can find out https://www.scstatehouse.gov/legislatorssearch.php

If you would like to learn more about this issue, please have a look at the following:

The Epstein Health Law and Policy Program

Providers Are Sexually Assaulting Patients — and It’s Legal

Medical Students Regularly Practice Pelvic Exams On Unconscious Patients.

1,511 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!