To change the name of the Sims speculum

To change the name of the Sims speculum

0 have signed. Let’s get to 7,500!


It has bothered me for some time that one of the most commonly used instruments in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, the Sims speculum, was named after a man whose treatment of black women was quite frankly barbaric. 

J Marion Sims earned the accolade of ‘the father of modern gynaecology’ and whilst he did pioneer gynaecological surgical techniques, particularly in the field of fistula repair, he did so by operating on enslaved black women with no anaesthesia. He operated on some women multiple times to further his techniques. 

Early forms of anaesthesia were available at the time, but Sims chose not to use it, believing that black women did not feel as much pain as white women. When he attempted to perform the same surgery on white women, almost all were unable to proceed due to the pain. The only difference is that the white women were able to, and listened to, when they told him to stop. 

I propose changing the name to the ‘Lacks speculum’ in honour of Henrietta Lacks, a black woman whose cervical cancer cells, (which were biopsied and used in medical research without her consent), became the first immortalised human cell line and continues to provide invaluable information for medical research.