June 17, 2015 — A woman who posted a viral video showing her obstetrician forcing her to have an episiotomy during childbirth has filed an assault-and-battery lawsuit, the The Daily Beast reports.
The incident occurred two years ago at Providence Tarzana Medical Center in California, where 27 year-old Kimberly Turbin gave birth.
Soon after her third push, the video shows her doctor, Dr. Alex Abbassi, pulling out a pair of scissors and informing her that he is going to perform an episiotomy, which is a surgical cut from the vagina to the anus.
Turbin clearly states, “No, don’t cut me!” When she asks Dr. Abbassi why she cannot try to deliver her son without an episiotomy, he says “What do you mean, ‘Why’? I am the expert here, OK? You can go home and do it! You go to Kentucky!”
After delivering a baby boy, Turbin says her case was turned down by 80 attorneys before a civil rights lawyer finally agreed to represent her. Physicians Weekly noted:
“This case is not about malpractice. It is about the right of a patient to refuse an intervention. While the doctor stood with scissors in hand, the patient can clearly be heard saying, ‘Don’t cut me.’”
According to the lawsuit, Turbin’s medical record shows she refused any surgical intervention and there was no emergency during the birth that necessitated an episiotomy. She says she continues to suffer from physical and emotional damages.
In 2002, episiotomies were performed in about one-fourth of women during childbirth — down from 80% just twenty years earlier. Experts now recommend restricted use of episiotomies, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG).
Episiotomies were once performed on nearly every woman who gave birth in a hospital because doctors believed they helped prevent more extensive tears. The practice of routine episiotomies has decreased since the 1980s, when the first studies showed that episiotomies could actually increase the risk of massive tearing, rectal incontinence, chronic pain, sexual dysfunction, and more. Studies have also shown that episiotomies do not improve labor, delivery, or recovery.
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