Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Ave
Boston MA 02115
Lecturer on Global Health and Social Medicine
Harvard Medical School
Global Health and Social Medicine
Available: 07/17/17, Expires: 07/09/19
The history of the establishment of Essure as the currently only available non-surgical method of sterilization is not written, and remains thus a desideratum of the historiography of transcervical sterilization. Potential lines of inquiry can be deduced from the patterns described for the historic continuity between abusive experiments by the gynecologists Carl Clauberg in Auschwitz and Hans-Joachim Lindemann in postwar Hamburg/Germany: the question of agency of the physicians, who performs the procedure, and the agency of the woman, who decides to have it; the methodology itself: the scientific aspects as well as standard of patient care; the structural context of politics and pharmaceutical companies involved. A study of Essure could add another chapter to the incomplete historiography of transcervical sterilization.
Follow-up project to:
Hildebrandt S, Benedict S, Miller E, Gaffney M, Grodin M. “Forgotten” chapters of the history of transcervical sterilization: Carl Clauberg and Hans-Joachim Lindemann. Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences, 72(3):272-301, 2017.
On 24 September 2015, the New York Times informed its readers that experts convened by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) “excoriated the manufacturer of a contraceptive device for not collecting data that they say could have helped predict risks for women”. Apparently, thousands of women had reported complications from the application of the Essure device, a non-surgical sterilization technique approved by the FDA in 2002. Complaints varied from severe pain to perforation of the Fallopian tubes and possibly even death. The FDA initiated a review of patient reports in late 2015, and ordered Bayer in February 2016 to perform an additional postmarket study and to add a warning label. A trade complaint is still being evaluated. Furthermore, a federal judge allowed lawsuits by affected women against Bayer in March 2016.
The Essure method consists of the transcervical introduction of metal/polyester coils into the uterine tubes and is promoted as the “the only permanent birth control with a nonsurgical procedure”. As such, it presents the preliminary outcome of the scientific quest for a nonsurgical method of sterilization that began in the 19th century. First attempts of transcervical sterilization started in the early 20th century, and further developments of the technique included coercive medical experiments during WWII. The technique of transcervical sterilization has an abusive potential that may be explained as a function of the person of the physician, of the scientific method itself, and of societal and political influences. The history of the Essure method itself has not been fully documented, but needs detailed analysis to answer the question, whether the problems with this technique can be explained by characteristics shared with the historic abusive experiments.
Student gathers and analyzes data on the history of Essure and compares with historic examples of transcervical sterilization.
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