The letter below is an open letter concerning the practice of non-consensual pelvic exams, about which you can learn more at yesterday's angry rant. Please leave a comment in support, as a virtual signature, and we'll circulate this everywhere and make a big stinky fuss until these policies get changed.
Dear Canadian Medical Association, Doctors of Canada, Ob-Gyns of Canada, Medical Students of Canada, Federal Minister of Health And Anybody Else Who Has Anything To Do With The Policy Or Practice Of Non-Consensual Pelvic Exams Performed On Women During Surgery:
A recent article in the Globe and Mail reports that that it is common and accepted practice in Canadian teaching hospitals for medical students to practice pelvic exams on anesthetized women undergoing surgery. No consent is sought from these women, and no consent is given.
This is deplorable. This is unacceptable. Non-consensual interference with another person's body in anything other than life-saving or life- or health-preserving circumstances is wrong. And for many women, interference with the sexual and reproductive parts of the body is interference of a particularly problematic kind. Many of us would experience this as violation. This is violation. If you do not have our permission to use our bodies for your own purposes, you must not so use them.
We demand that this practice be stopped immediately. We demand that the Canadian Medical Association and the boards of all Canadian teaching hospitals and medical schools change their policies and regulations regarding this practice, such that no pelvic examinations for the purposes of medical training are ever performed without the woman's express consent. We demand that the relevant Canadian laws be amended, if necessary, to reflect this, that they reflect every woman's - every person's - right to authority over their own body.
We never said yes to this. We are now saying loudly, NO.
And no means no.
Women of Canada, their loved ones, friends and supporters.
Read more about the issue at Canada Moms Blog, where a few writers are giving their personal accounts of how this affects them. Also check out this post at BlogHer, which summarizes some of the discussion so far. And, of course, my rant from yesterday. If you've written about this, please leave a link in the comments. And if you tweet about this, please hashtag it #noconsent, so that we can follow it and get more online discussion going.