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17 June 2010 @ 09:14 pm
Female Genital Mutilation at Cornell University  
Okay, big time TRIGGER WARNING for the following for sexual abuse among other things.
The topic title comes from the title of Dan Savage's article here http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/06/16/female-genital-mutilation-at-cornell-university in which he quotes this http://www.thehastingscenter.org/Bioethicsforum/Post.aspx?id=4730&blogid=140

Here are the relevant bits:

Dr. Dix Poppas, a pediatric urologist, has been doing "cosmetic" surgery on little girls to reduce the visible size of their clits. Details of what the surgery involves at the links. Which is bad enough for reasons I'll get to in a minute. THEN as part of their follow-up exam he is using vibrators or cotton swabs to masturbate them to arousal in the presence of a parent to "prove" that the surgery was successful in not accidentally severing something important and they still have full sensation. And ideally he wants to be allowed to do this every year from that point on as the girl grows up to chart her sexual development.

Among the serious issues here:

As is pointed out at both links if he DID screw it up what's he going to do? He can't restore the nerves that he accidentally cut out.

He thinks sexually stimulating children on a regular basis in front of their parents will not in some way impact their sexual development.

He apparently does NOT have approval from his IRB to be doing this. He DID get approval for a chart review to write the article about his surgical procedure but not for sexual activity with a child for the purposes of research.

There are indications that the parents are not being given all the information they need for informed consent for the surgery and may not be giving informed consent for the follow-up.

If you're a kid with big ears or a big nose an ethical plastic surgeon will want to wait until you are at or near your full growth to operate because the body changes so much during growth and you can grow into them. How is it that the same isn't being done for girls with larger clits when we know that puberty can cause massive changes to the genitals (Like in the case of a genetic quirk in which boys have no recognizable penis until then and then grow perfectly normal ones)? Because, apparently there is some positive correlation between clit size and your chances of growing up to be a lesbian. /sigh/

The surgery puts the child at risk for post operative infection, incontinence, and loss of some or all sexual feeling. Just like the more primate sorts of genital mutilation.

A big reason given for doing the surgery is to help the child's self-image. Right. 'Cause having a large clit when you don't even realize that it's not "normal" (and who other than the doctors and parents are going to be looking at that point?) is so much more psychologically damaging than going through painful surgery and being put on display for the medical team and having this creep have fun time with his vibrator. And I'd like to add a point I missed when I posted this to FOAF this morning: This guy is a urologist; where does he get off making pronouncements about anybody's mental health? .

Copy/pasted from a comment on the first link:
You can email the Dean of Weill Medical College, Antonio Gotto: dean@med.cornell.edu
Or Dr. Poppas himself: dpoppas@med.cornell.edu
You can also email University President, David Skorton: president@cornell.edu

Macavity Kitsune whose post alerted me to this wants this to be posted to as many forums as possible so here's my part. It's prolly going to be a day or so before I can compose an email of protest that doesn't sound like it's from a raving loony though. What the fuck are you people thinking doesn't tend to be an effective way of communicating outrage to bureaucrats.
Kristin: Colbert Drinkkriscynical on June 18th, 2010 02:48 am (UTC)
I take it you got this from ontd_political or the feminism comm. I didn't comment over on ontd but I am rightly horrified. It's legal molestation disguised as a medical procedure. What I really want to know, though, is who the hell are these parents who agreed to this?
ranuelranuel on June 18th, 2010 10:39 am (UTC)
I got it from Macavity Kitsune at the link in the post.

I'm not entirely sure it IS entirely legal. The surgery unfortunately is but what about his "follow-up"?

At the least I think it would violate the med school experimental code of ethics. A researcher at UF who wants to recruit some of our patients for a study had to turn in an stack of paper over an inch thick to the IRB just to get approval for a study on if a new sort of transfer slide board made training the patients to use a transfer board easier. The big change from standard boards was that one end actually attached to the wheelchair instead of being a loose board placed between the chair and the bed each time.

I'd like to think that a school with a reputation like Cornell's is at least as anal about things but who knows.

And yeah, I want to know what's going on with the parents too. Part of it by that stage is probably deferring to the authority of the man in the white coat but that can't excuse everything.
rockerfaeryrockerfaery on June 18th, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)
I am so utterly pissed off by this that I don't think I can say anything intelligent about it. If a parent is so stupid, so willing to be a sheep, that they go along with this.... they should be held accountable. They may have been lied to etc etc, whatever, any parent who can watch that "exam" and allow it to continue and be repeated is a shit parent.

ranuelranuel on June 18th, 2010 04:25 pm (UTC)
Yes, totally.
rockerfaeryrockerfaery on June 18th, 2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
And and AND...

Who the hell decides their little girl's clit needs fixing anyway?? There's something a little screwy about parents thinking about that at all in my opinion. If the girl grows up and thinks that is necessary, fine. But at the age of 6 no one needs to be looking or concerned with that unless it's somehow a health risk.

Good job giving girls something else to be self conscious about, parents. As if all the stupidity over hair, clothes, weight, skin, etc etc isn't enough.