A statue in New York City of a pioneering South Carolina gynecologist is attracting the same sort of criticism one in Columbia has, with some people saying it needs to be taken down.
South Carolina born and trained doctor James Marion Sims has been recognized as the the father of modern gynecology. The 19th-century physician is credited with developing a surgical technique to repair certain types of fistulas, or vaginal tears, which prior to that had been a seemingly insurmountable condition. He developed the technique through operations on enslaved black women in Alabama, without anesthesia.
Statues lauding his pioneering work stand at the South Carolina State House in Columbia and New York’s Central Park – and at the center of a heated debate over medical ethics and slavery.
Critics in New York City and Columbia have called for removing the statues, calls that have gotten louder and gained urgency in the wake of violence that followed recent a white nationalist rally in Virginia over the removal of a Confederate statue and sparked national discussions about what should be displayed and honored in the public square.
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New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said a task force would be put together to review “symbols of hate” on city property with an eye toward determining whether removals are necessary.
Among those calling for the Sims statue to be removed from its upper Manhattan location is City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who at a press conference Monday said, “We must send a definitive message that the despicable acts of J. Marion Sims are repugnant and reprehensible.”
Last week, Columbia Mayor Steve Benjamin called the Sims statue the most offensive statue on South Carolina’s capitol grounds.
“It should come down at some point, ” said Benjamin, while speaking on MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews about President Trump’s comments after Charlottesville.
The Associated Press contributed.