A statue of a disgraced doctor who infamously performed gynecological experiments on female slaves without anesthesia will be removed from New York City’s Central Park and relocated to a cemetery in Brooklyn. J. Marion Sims’ statue was placed in an “honored, high-profile position” in the famous park, and the Public Design Commission voted unanimously to relocate it to Green-Wood Cemetery.
According to the New York Daily News, the statue “will now be installed on a low base next to Sims’ grave at Green-Wood. It’s unclear when it will go up, since the cemetery first plans to install explanatory signs.”
Chanel Porchia-Albert, the founder of Ancient Song Doula Services, said that removing the statue is a positive step towards “having some reconciliation.”
“Women of African descent, black and brown women have consistently had our reproductive freedoms and rights oppressed,” she said. However, some speakers at the public hearing before the commission vote were against removing the statue.
“History matters. Don’t run from it. The Sims monument is part of New York City’s history,” said Stony Brook University professor Michele Bogart. “The significance of the monument does not derive merely from our present day feelings and our assessments of whether the subject of the work was a good or bad person. The meaning of public sculptures goes far beyond that.”
Sims was known as the “Father of Modern Gynecology,” and was championed as a pioneer in the surgery field. However, it was discovered that the 19th-century doctor performed risky and life-threatening experimental procedures on female slaves without the use of anesthesia.
“Critics say Sims cared more about the experiments than in providing therapeutic treatment, and that he caused untold suffering by operating under the racist notion that black people did not feel pain,” writes History.com.