Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Maloney Mulls Cautionary Bill on Hysterectomy

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010


U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney has promised to study the feasibility of legally requiring doctors to warn women about the life-changing impact of hysterectomies, 90 percent of which, she says, are avoidable Frances Cerra Whittelsey reports.
Maloney Mulls Cautionary Bill on Hysterectomy
By Frances Cerra Whittelsey
WeNews correspondent
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney has promised to study the feasibility of legally requiring doctors to warn women about the life-changing impact of hysterectomies, 90 percent of which, she says, are avoidable.
Maloney with Indiana's Bruce Borders Bookmark and Share Subscribe
(WOMENSENEWS)--Asserting that America is in the grip of an "epidemic" of avoidable hysterectomies, U.S. Representative Carolyn Maloney has promised to study the feasibility of legally requiring doctors to tell women about the life-changing impact of the surgery.

Maloney, a Democrat from Manhattan, made the pledge recently at the 28th annual conference of HERS, a foundation based in Bala Cynwyd, Penn., dedicated to reducing the number of hysterectomies.
"Ninety percent of hysterectomy patients who opt for the surgery have non-cancerous, non-life-threatening ailments for which there are alternative, less invasive procedures," Maloney told the audience. "Where is the outrage?"
A spokesperson for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said the College doesn't collect statistics on the surgery or why it's done, "so I can't check-confirm the 90 percent figure," she said. The College does not support mandating or legislating informed consent for any condition, the spokesperson said.
About 600,000 American women undergo hysterectomies every year. Rarely do they hear anything from their doctors about adverse effects other than the inability to have more children, said Nora Coffey, founder of HERS, during an interview.

Pre-Surgery Video

Coffey started the foundation 28 years ago to educate women about the effects of losing their reproductive and sex organs and to give women a place to share stories about the after-effects of surgery. The organization has created a video explaining how and why many women suffer a loss of libido, urinary incontinence and a host of other debilitating and painful health problems when their uteruses--and often their ovaries as well--are removed.
The foundation is championing a law that would require doctors to show its video to women 48 hours before they consent to the surgery.
Maloney said that before she introduces such legislation, she will ask for a study by the U.S. General Accountability Office and gather expert advice. Maloney herself thought better about having a hysterectomy after friends who are women's health advocates talked her out of it.
So far, no law requiring video consent has been introduced in any state. In January, the Indiana legislature held a hearing on an informed consent bill introduced by Rep. Bruce Borders, a Republican, whose wife underwent a hysterectomy and removal of her ovaries about four years ago. "It destroyed my wife's life and a lot of mine, too," said Borders, who spoke at the April conference.
He said that after the surgery he had become "desperate" to understand why his wife had lost interest in sex. After connecting with the HERS Foundation, he says he concluded that his wife had been "lied to" about her need for the surgery and decided to introduce legislation.
The Indiana legislature held a hearing on Borders' bill in January, but no vote was taken. The bill would have required that women be told in writing "all of the ramifications of hysterectomy," he said. Now Borders is hoping a special legislative summer committee will study the issue and write a bill requiring a video.
Women at the conference said their doctors told them they no longer needed their uteruses and ovaries after completing their families and justified taking out healthy ovaries to lower their risk of ovarian cancer. However, ovarian removal raises their risk of heart attack and osteoporosis, according to a 2005 article in the journal, Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The article notes that removal of the uterus alone reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 40 percent, and that women 40 to 44 who lose their ovaries face double the risk of heart attack. The article's conclusion is that "at no age is there a clear benefit" from removal of healthy ovaries. About half the women who have hysterectomies every year--300,000--lose their ovaries at the same time.
Frances Cerra Whittelsey is an independent journalist from Huntington, N.Y., who is researching a book on avoidable hysterectomies. She blogs at

For more information:

HERS Foundation:


Mad as Hell said...

I too was lied to about my need for a hysterectomy and ovary removal by my then trusted and respected prominent ob/gyn of 20 years. He lied and used ovarian cancer fear tactics after discovering a cystadenoma. He even referred me to an oncologist and then failed to follow his recommendation to only remove the ovary. However, some actions by the oncologist, including lies in my medical records, are also suspect. My surgeon actually waited for the results of the frozen section (benign) and then proceeded to remove my healthy uterus and other ovary.

He was assisted by two ob/gyn Graduate Medical Education students so I suspect the hospital's GME program played into my being gutted.

I filed a complaint with the state medical board (MO) and they ruled that he did nothing wrong! I suspect the fact that his name is all over the hospital's campus didn't help matters.

My life was destroyed that day. Within just 4 months post-op, I aged rapidly and could barely function despite being on hormones that my doctor assured me "are easily titrated." I was severely depressed and anxious to the point of being suicidal along with a long list of other health issues, none of which were present pre-surgery. To add insult to injury, I was dismissed over the phone when I called his office desperate for help.

My previously energetic, vibrant, joyful, outgoing personality turned into depression and a basic feeling of being dead with none of the loving feelings I previously had for my family. I've become a recluse avoiding all social interaction.

Not only has the loss of hormones been devastating, so too has the loss of my intact physique as my spine compresses and my abdomen protrudes with resulting back and hip pain. And I dread how much worse it will get as I'm only 4 years post-op.

Yes, hysterectomy affects libido and sexual response, the loss of which I also mourn, but it affects SO much more than that.

As far as the article's statement that "removal of the uterus alone reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by 40 percent" - keep in mind that a woman's lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is less than 2% so it's insignificant even without the 40% reduction!

Only a law will stop the fraud of hysterectomy. In all other industries, our government takes action (including prosecution) to protect citizens from scammers. The medical industry should be held to these same standards.

bernadette188 said...

Thank you for this important article! Every woman need this information. Congresswoman Maloney and Rep. Borders are terrific!

ViolenceAgainstWomen said...

Where is the outrage? I was given an unnecessary hysterectomy along with the removal of my ovaries and cervix without my consent in 2006. I did not have cancer or any life threatening condition, and it has devastated my life and my health. Thank you Congresswoman Maloney and Rep. Bruce Borders for standing up for women and fighting to stop this.

Aquablogger said...

I worked briefly with HERS, and I still follow the cause - not because I am protecting my ovaries - never had any - but because I didn't like the Tuskegee experiments, either. One day the world will drop their collective jaw in their lap and go, "Hunh??!"

Yep, tell your disbelieving male friends to write me and I'll tell them why I get angry when I think about this evil. I'm sure HERS will forward the e-mail.


Ron Fischman
Teacher, Middle School Math/Science

Gracie said...

Thank you Congresswoman Maloney and Rep. Bruce Borders for speaking at the 28th HERS Conference and making a pledge to check into the many unnecessary hysterectomies. I also want to thank Frances Cerra Whittelsey for covering this very important health issue.

As Rep. Borders stated not only does this damaging surgery affect the woman, but also her husband, family, friends, sexual enjoyment, career and marriage.

It is so hard to believe there are many laws to protect everything from the environment to animals, but nothing to protect women. I guess when congressmen and congresswomen are funded by the medical field, it is hard to go against the establishment.

Doctors will lie about the consequences and damages this surgery has on your life. The majority of women end up losing their health, marriage and careers after having a hysterectomy and castration.

Doctors will tell women you no longer need your uterus and ovaries, your sex life will be better than ever and you will feel great. I was told I would probably get cancer from my fibroid. A lie!

Yes, we should have researched, but we were given glorified hysterectomy information and watched THEIR dvd on hysterectomies which also glorified hysterectomies by the doctor and also a book that was a lie from the beginning to the end. It does no good to go to another OBGYN for a second opinion because they all do surgeries, not preserve the sexual organs. It is easier to 'clean house' than to do alternative surgeries which takes more time but pays less. I just read a story where an OBGYN was bragging he did 68 hysterectomies in 24 hours. All I could think of was 68 lives lost! There are alternative surgeries for fibroids, cysts and polys and I was not given any of them. If a doctor wants to give you a hysterectomy for fibroids, you have the wrong doctor. RUN DON'T WALK out of his office. The HERS Foundation will find you a skilled doctor in your area who does myomectomies to remove the fibroids.

Why would congress turn down a bill to provide HERS 'female anatomy' video at least 48 hours prior to being told to sign a hysterectomy consent form? Why would they not want women to be informed about the consequences of a hysterectomy? Why would anyone not want to protect their wife, mothers, daughters or sisters?

Every day I wake up and think how many women are being castrated today? How many women's lives are being destroyed today? This is a barbaric abusive act against women, the worse! If thousands of men were being castrated, there would have been a law passed long ago. WOMEN ARE STILL NOT VALUED AROUND THE WORLD AND ESPECIALLY BY THEIR DOCTORS.

Aquablogger said...

I worked with HERS briefly,and suppress a puking sensation when I think about this. I didn't like the Tuskegee Syphillis experiments or Joseph Mengele, either. The future world's jaw fill hit the desk while it goes, "Hunh??!?!" If you guy wants to get pissed, have him write me.

jiggaz31 said...

There is absolutely no doubt that hysterectomy and castration are being performed on women who do not need, want or choose these surgeries. Let's all at the very least agree on this obvious fact.

There is no way in h*** that over 600,000 women in the U.S. every year are in need of having their female 'sex' organs removed. There is also no way in h*** that over 600,000 women want or choose to have their 'sex' organs removed just for the heck of it. The numbers are just too great for anyone capable of reason to believe that thousands of women would choose to be de-sexed each year. It's just not a reasonable assumption.

Therefore, it becomes reasonable to make the assumption that many of those thousands of women hysterectomized and castrated are being hyterectomized and castrated without their informed consent. It is also completely not reasonable to believe that over 600,000 women each year in the U.S. want and choose to be de-sexed.

Houston... we have a problem. Let's quit arguing about whether we have a problem or not. We have a problem! Thankfully, there are people like Rep. Borders, Nora Coffey, Frances Cerra Whittelsey and others who are trying to find a way to 'fix' this issue and stop the unnecessary butchering of women. Let's work together to find a way to educate women about their female anatomy and the many consequences of removing it.

The HERS Female Anatomy Video goes a long way toward this end. If anyone has a better idea about how to educate women; voice it. Otherwise, please get behind those who are taking a stand for women regarding informed hysterectomy consent and/or video informed hysterectomy consent.

Jennifer Racioppi said...

As a hysterectomized woman I stand behind the HERS Foundation. Women need to be informed of the consequences of this barbaric surgery before they consent to it. The results can be absolutely catastrophic- life changing in mores ways than imaginable. This is a human rights issue and needs to be taken seriously.