The use of Black men and women for various experiments and medical exploitations is a practice that has resulted in numerous medical breakthroughs.
During the time of slavery and the years that followed, Caucasian doctors and scientists used black people as guinea pigs for horrific experiments all over Europe and America.
James Marions Sim, a controversial character, was notably notorious for conducting unholy experiments on enslaved African women. He had a reputation for performing surgery on his victims without anesthetics. His justification was that the violent dismemberment of black women was not painful enough to merit the use of anesthetics.
In 1855, James established the first female hospital in New York City. He is credited for developing a therapy for vesicovaginal fistula.
James defended his brutal surgical practices by claiming that “black people do not experience as much pain as white people” and so did not require anaesthetic during operation. Many African women died at his hands as a result of his illogical and prejudiced reasoning.
James, who was clearly a murderer by today’s standards, was not tried or prosecuted; instead, white supremacist institutions praised him and dubbed him “the father of modern gynecology.”
Between 1845 and 1849, James is said to have operated on 12 enslaved African women in his hospital. But it was more than that, for many of them died as a result of his brutal experiments.
He only mentioned three ladies in his records due to skepticism or other reasons best known to him. Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy were his first three victims, with Anarcha being the first.
The owners of the Wescott plantation bought and enslaved Anarcha when she was a little girl. She was sold into slavery together with 75 other women and given the surname Wescott.
At the age of 17, Anarcha became pregnant. She was supposed to give birth in June of 1849, but she was in labor for three days. She couldn’t give birth because of rickets, which damaged her pelvis.
“Rickets is a condition in which children’s bones soften and deteriorate as a result of a severe and long-term vitamin D deficit. Rickets can also be caused by genetic disorders. Vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus from diet by your child’s body.”
Dr. James learned about Anarcha’s predicament and leaped at the chance to experiment on her. He took her in and performed a series of experimental procedures on her over the next few hours. And all of this was done without the use of any type of anesthetic. Imagine a woman who has been in labor for three days!
Anarcha was able to deliver her child after the first four procedures.
The nature of the operations and incisions performed by Dr. James prompted her to return for additional procedures to fix the unhealed tears in her vagina and rectum that had resulted from extreme bleeding and agony.
Dr. James performed additional 30 procedures to treat her bleeding and agony. Other enslaved African women were also subjected to these procedures. Betsy and Lucy were two of them who stood out.
It’s worth noting that these women almost died as a result of the surgery, as Dr. James acknowledged in his journal. He was dubbed the “Father of Gynecology” for his work on these surgeries.
After this, the stories of his risky surgeries and experiments on African women would continue, but after Anarcha’s surgeries, nothing is written or known about her.
It is concerning, however, that a callous doctor with such a disregard for human life, fine-tuned with a racist temperament, was praised by white society and lauded with high titles and honors.
They didn’t seem to mind that he was using African women as test subjects. The enslaved Africans were nothing more than property to them, and they were disposable.
Dr. James would go on to be memorialized by white Americans, who erected sculptures in his honor. However, as time passed, history was revisited by subsequent generations, and his legacy and title were called into question.
In 2018, his statue in New York City was taken down and destroyed, following a long-standing demand, in commemoration of the women he mistreated and used in his evil experiments. Anarcha, Betsy, and Lucy are now known as the Gynecology’s moms.