Category: Press Releases
Released: April 8, 2021
The American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL): Statement Condemning Racism and Violence Against the Asian Community
“In a year of tragedy due to the overwhelming loss of life from the COVID-19 pandemic, increased violence and racism against the Asian community compounds our grief. Though anti-Asian sentiment has plagued the Asian community for centuries, Asians have now become the scapegoats for the discontent and fear of the rest of the world. A recent study has found that in the past year, anti-Asian hate crimes have increased in the United States by 149 percent. Facing a global pandemic together has shown how connected the world really is at every level. For some, however, the pandemic has been used as a platform for increased racism and a guise for violent assaults. There is never justification for such brutality or such ignorance.”
“The AAGL is a progressive and inclusive society that currently and historically includes physicians from every race and ethnicity in leadership positions. Though we have modeled inclusion, we, as a society, must take to heart the threat to the Asian community and develop our awareness of anti-Asian racism in order to take a proactive stance against it. The AAGL condemns hate and racist claims of all forms and stands in support of the Asian community.”
Ted T.M. Lee, MD
2021 AAGL President
NOTE: AAGL has also participated in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologist (ACOG) Collective Action Addressing Racism Joint Statement on Anti-Racism that can be accessed via this link: https://www.acog.org/news/news-articles/2021/04/collective-action-addressing-racism-in-solidarity-with-asian-american-pacific-islander-community
Released – March 22, 2021
Endometriosis is a common and complex condition affecting millions worldwide with significant impact on quality of life, fertility and our health care system. The major challenges for those affected have been delays in diagnosis, lack of awareness and lack of access to high quality surgery and interdisciplinary care.
The AAGL and its members are committed to improving access to care, research, education and support for individuals and families affected by Endometriosis. In order to achieve these goals, the AAGL is committed to elevating care quality among its members through our online programming, our Annual Global Congress, Fellowship in Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery (FMIGS) and guidelines. Advances in diagnostic imaging, medical therapies and surgical techniques are shared through our Journal of Minimally Invasive Gynecology (JMIG) and presented in our research programs.
Improving care for those with endometriosis takes a team that involves patients, families, health care providers and policy makers.
The AAGL is committed to elevating the conversation alongside all those who are fighting to improve the health of those in need.
Released: February 26, 2021
Our organizations, which comprise leading professional organizations in health care, officially designate February 28 and March 1—the dates that bridge Black History and Women’s History months—for the formal acknowledgment of Betsey, Lucy, and Anarcha, the three enslaved Black women whose exploitation led to foundational advances in the field of obstetrics and gynecology that benefit millions of patients today. Betsey, Lucy, and Anarcha, and other unnamed enslaved women, were experimented on by Dr. James Marion Sims in development of surgical techniques in the mid-1800s. Their documented experiences have helped raise awareness about racism in medicine and the abuses endured by people of color that have often been overlooked in medical history. This year’s commemoration marks the inaugural formal reflection on the injustices—deeply rooted in racism and oppression—carried out against these women and others throughout history. As leading organizations comprised of medical care professionals, we have made an actionable commitment to accountability and doing the purposeful work of dismantling systemic and institutional racism that is pervasive in U.S. healthcare institutions and led to continued disparate and negative health outcomes for Black, indigenous, people of color and other marginalized persons.
This effort starts with the seven actions outlined in the joint statement Collective Action Addressing Racism (download the pdf). One of the primary objectives of this collective action is to assist our organizations’ members in reflecting, learning, and acting on ways they can individually work to change the culture of medicine. This inaugural year, on Feb. 22, Dr. Veronica Pimentel, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist whose activism was the impetus for the commemoration days, hosted a live event with Award-Winning Historian Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, discussing the history and accounts of Betsey, Lucy and Anarcha. You can access the recording of that event here.
Dr. Pimentel has also provided a video reflecting on the importance of recognizing Betsey, Lucy and Anarcha and the impact this recognition and reflection can have on the medical community as a whole. Access the video here or click the image below to play the video.
Released – January 22, 2020
The American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL) announces 50 years of excellence in elevating minimally invasive gynecologic surgery. This golden anniversary will be celebrated throughout the year by featuring the rich history and accomplishments of the AAGL and honoring the pioneers who have paved the way for modern minimally invasive gynecologic surgery. The festivities will culminate in November 2021 in a commemoration at the AAGL Annual Global Congress, the premier scientific conference for gynecologic surgeons from around the world.
Since its inception in 1971, AAGL has played a critical role in the dissemination of best practices in MIGS and the education of gynecologic surgeons from around the world. The AAGL proudly count the world’s foremost authorities in gynecologic surgery, procedural pioneers, and medical thought leaders as members of our association. Now, with a membership of over 7,500 surgeons across 110 countries, the AAGL continues to reach to the farthest corners of the globe to elevate MIGS and thereby, enhance health care for women worldwide.
“This is a tremendous milestone for our association,” shares Linda Michels, Executive Director of AAGL. “It represents the perseverance and commitment to excellence of thousands of gynecologic surgeons who carry out our mission. Our legacy of the last 50 years is the improved health of millions of women.”
“Each of us, as members of this prestigious association, owe homage to those who came before us,” says Dr. T.M. Ted Lee, AAGL President. “We study their techniques; we learn from their struggles and we benefit from their advocacy. Throughout this year we remember and recognize the achievements of the AAGL and will use this inspiration to shape our vision for the years to come.”
AAGL is the leading association promoting minimally invasive gynecologic surgery among surgeons worldwide. AAGL’s mission is to elevate the quality and safety of health care for women through excellence in clinical practice, education, research, innovation, and advocacy. Find out more about AAGL at: www.aagl.org.
For more information, please contact Linda Michels, Executive Director, AAGL, at 714-503-6204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Released – December 15, 2020
The American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL) along with the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS), Canadian Society for the Advancement of Gynecologic Excellence (CANSAGE), International Federation of Fertility Societies (IFFS), International Gynecologic Cancer Society (IGCS), Society of Family Planning (SFP,) Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), Society of Gynecologic Surgeons (SGS) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM) – release a unified statement supporting public health measures to combat COVID-19.
AAGL supports strategies that protect the health and wellbeing of our patients, health care professionals, and our professional society members and staff. Ongoing public health measures such as distancing, masking, hand hygiene, and appropriate personal protective equipment for healthcare personnel are critical in minimizing spread of existing COVID-19 infection and protecting healthcare providers around the globe. Vaccination is the key to prevention of new infections.
On December 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use in the United States. On December 12, 2020, the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) approved the recommendation to use this vaccine in the indicated population under FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization. We believe that the vaccine trials and the FDA and ACIP data evaluation process have been robust and transparent. In other countries across the world, regulatory bodies have also endorsed the vaccine, and similar processes will be followed globally to evaluate each upcoming candidate vaccine. It is our collective opinion, after closely monitoring this situation, that the benefits of COVID-19 vaccination far outweigh the risks. We endorse vaccination for all eligible health care workers, patients, and our society at large, including populations who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 or complications from the disease, in consultation with their physicians or health care professionals.
It is especially important that certain eligible patient populations, including pregnant women, consult with their trusted physicians when considering whether to take the vaccine. Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have urged that pregnant and lactating people be included in the vaccine trials and research; unfortunately, they were not.
While a conversation with a clinician may be helpful and is encouraged, it should not be required prior to vaccination as this may cause unnecessary barriers to access. We support additional data collection and research to continue to inform recommendations for these populations.
As vaccination becomes available, AAGL believes that both preventing the spread of existing COVID-19 infections and widespread vaccination are essential to control the pandemic and save lives.
It is incumbent upon health care professionals to familiarize themselves with existing trial data, including the unknowns, and to inspire confidence in the vaccine among our patients and other health care professionals. Health care professionals should continue to support efforts to collect data necessary for evidence-based recommendations.
For more information on FDA vaccine trials, click here:
For more information on World Health Organization vaccines, click here:
For more information on the vaccine in pregnant individuals, click here:
For Immediate Release: 11/3/2020
Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgeons (MIGS) from around the world await the opening day of the American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists’ (AAGL) 49th Annual Virtual Global Congress on Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery (MIGS), November 6-14, 2020. AAGL’s Congress, the premier scientific conference for gynecologic surgeons from around the world, offers high-quality education and cutting-edge best practices in MIGS.
Notable highlights catching such pronounced attention include a record-breaking eighteen live surgeries streamed in high definition and a keynote address by Dr. Carla Pugh the internationally recognized, highly acclaimed, researcher and educator whose groundbreaking innovations are dramatically reshaping how physicians learn to practice medicine.
MIG surgeons globally are virtually flocking to this year’s Congress to view more live surgeries than ever presented historically at an AAGL Congress. Immediate translation allows renowned, expert MIG surgeons from around the world to instruct in their native language during surgery while being simultaneously translated. “This is an unprecedented opportunity for learning,” says Scientific Program Chair, Dr. Ted T.M. Lee. “We are removing language barriers, cost and time limitations which allows us to extend our reach and equip more minimally invasive gynecologic surgeons throughout the world than ever before.”
Attendees are looking forward to Live Surgery 8: Laparoscopic Nerve-Sparing Radical Hysterectomy with No-Look, No-Touch Technique, by expert surgeon Dr. Hiroyuki Kanao from the Cancer Institute of JFCR in Tokyo, Japan. Dr. Kanao and his team will present on Tuesday, November 10 from 6:00pm-7:00pm (PT). “Laparoscopic radical hysterectomy includes several steps that can lead to cancer cell spillage. With the goal of ensuring the safety and advantages of laparoscopic radical hysterectomy for early-stage cervical cancer, we have incorporated into the procedure specific measures aimed at preventing cancer cell spillage from occurring (No-look no-touch technique). We conducted a retrospective study in which we assessed both the technical feasibility and oncologic outcomes of our laparoscopic radical hysterectomy procedure in comparison to those of open surgery, and our results indicate that TLRH incorporating specific measures aimed at preventing cancer cell spillage is a reliable alternative to RH. We feel our live surgery, which demonstrates the procedure step-by-step, will be of special interest to the attendees of AAGL,” Hiroyuki Kanao, MD.
Another particularly awaited presentation is Live Surgery 10: Severe and Deep Endometriosis TLH by the brilliant Dr. Humberto Jose Dionisi from the Clinica y Maternidad del Sol in Cordoba, Argentina. Dr. Dionisi and his team will present live streaming on Wednesday, November 11, 8:00am-9:00am (PT). “Deep endometriosis surgery is one of the most challenging,” says Dr. Dionisi. “During the procedure we will show the tips and tricks to perform a hysterectomy in a patient with endometriosis. We will teach the anatomy recovery and exposure, and the systematic approach to dissecting the pelvic sidewall, where the premise is to change from the difficult to the easy way.”
A pivotal live surgery attendees do not want to miss is Live Surgery 13: Laparoscopic Colposacropexy by the highly respected Dr. Pere N. Barri of Hospital Universitario Dexeus in Barcelona, Spain. According to Dr. Barri, “Laparoscopic Colposacropexy is the gold standard procedure for pelvic floor repair but it is not yet the most widespread approach. The standardization of the technique and good long-term outcomes must encourage pelvic surgeons towards a major choice in favor of minimally invasive colposacropexy. The AAGL Virtual Congress is a great platform to spread this message around the world.” Dr. Barri and his team will be performing live streaming on Friday, November 13, 5:00am-6:00am (PT).
Additional live streamed surgeries that will be presented include:
Live Surgery 1: Laparoscopic Transabdominal Cerclage by Dr. Alex Ades, Epworth Hospital, Melbourne, Australia
Live Surgery 2: Gynecologic Oncology – Laparoscopic Radical Hysterectomy by Dr. Shailesh P Puntambekar, Galaxy Hospital, Pune, India
Live Surgery 3: Laparoscopic Management of Deep Infiltrating Endometriosis with or without Hysterectomy by Dr. Ted T.M. Lee, Magee Womens Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Live Surgery 4: Laparoscopic/Robotic Excision of Severe Pelvic Sidewall and Pouch of Douglas Endometriosis by Dr. Alan M. Lam, Centre for Advanced Reproductive Endosurgery, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Live Surgery 5: Laparoscopy-Assisted Resection of Deep Infiltrating Endometriosis by Dr. Shuzhong Yao, The First Affiliated Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
Live Surgery 6: Natural Orifice Sacrocolpopexy by Dr. Juan Liu, Third Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, Guangzhou, China
Live Surgery 7: Robotic Assisted Laparoscopic Excision of Severe Endometriosis +/- Total Laparoscopic Hysterectomy by Dr. Felix Chan, Macquarie University Hospital, NSW, NSW, Australia
Live Surgery 9: Endometriosis Surgery by Laparoscopy by Dr. William Kondo, CEAGIC – NAÇOES HOSPITAL, CURITIBA, Brazil
Live Surgery 11: Laparoscopic Hysterectomy for Fibroid Uterus- Strategic Approach by Dr. Filipa Beja Osorio, Hospital da Luz Lisboa, Lisbon, Portugal
Live Surgery 12: vNOTES Hysterectomy by Dr. Jan Baekelandt, Imelda Hospital, Bonheiden, Belgium
Live Surgery 14: Robot-Assisted Laparoscopic Modified Radical Hysterectomy with Bilateral Pelvic Lymphadenectomy by Dr. Dwight Dae-Hoon Im, Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland
Live Surgery 15: Laparoscopic Extraperitoneal Paraaortic Lymphadenectomy by Dr. Masaaki Andou, Kurashiki Medical Ctr, Kurashiki-Shi, Japan
Live Surgery 16: Laparoscopic High Para-Aortic Lymph Node Dissection by Dr. William Lin, China Medical University Hospital, Taichung City, Taiwan
Live Surgery 17: Laparoscopic Total Hysterectomy and SLN Biopsy by Dr. Audrey Tieko Tsunoda, Hospital Erasto Gaertner, Curitiba PR, Brazil
Live Surgery 18: Laparoscopic Treatment of Deep Endometriosis Involving the Lateral and Posterior Compartment by Dr. Mario Malzoni, National Center for Endometriosis, Avellino, Italy
Another tremendous highlight that is attracting worldwide MIGS attention is the AAGL Congress keynote address by Carla Pugh, MD, PhD. Dr. Pugh is the first surgeon in the United States to obtain a PhD in Education. She is internationally recognized in academia and industry for her research on the use of sensors, motion tracking, simulation technology and a variety of other approaches to quantitatively define hands-on clinical skills. Her aim is to use technology to change the face of medical and surgical education. Currently, more than 100 medical and nursing schools use one of Dr. Pugh’s sensor-enabled training tools for their students. In 2011, President Obama presented Dr. Pugh with the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and she was recently inducted into the prestigious American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. Dr. Pugh is also recognized for her high impact TEDMED presentation in 2014 relating to haptics in healthcare.
Dr. Pugh’s highly anticipated presentation will address the effective development of haptic skills during medical education to produce better techniques and patient outcomes. Attendees will learn how clinical educators collaborate with their engineering partners to design simulation technologies and identify the steps involved in bringing a surgical innovation from concept to commercial use for surgical training and information exchange.
AAGL Global Congress live sessions begin virtually on November 6 with thoughtful time consideration for a worldwide audience. For registration and to view the full, nine day scientific program visit the AAGL Global Congress webpage.
AAGL is an international professional medical association of laparoscopic surgeons and the global leader in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery. AAGL’s mission is to elevate the quality and safety of health care for women through excellence in clinical practice, education, research, innovation, and advocacy. Since 1971, the AAGL has educated the world’s finest surgeons and facilitated a global exchange of information regarding gynecological breakthroughs and best practices to improve women’s health worldwide. Find out more about the AAGL at: www.aagl.org/
For more information, please contact Linda Michels, Executive Director, AAGL, at 714-503-6204 or email@example.com.
For Immediate Release: 10/2/2020
The American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL) announces that 12 year old, Alessandra “Lexi” Mauricio has been selected to present her completed research at the 49th Annual Global Congress on Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery (MIGS), held virtually, November 6-14, 2020. AAGL’s Congress, the premier scientific conference for gynecologic surgeons from around the world, offers high-quality education and cutting-edge best practices in MIGS. This year, the AAGL Congress is expected to welcome a record number of physicians, both domestic and international, through an all virtual format.
Like all presenters seeking to share their research findings at the prestigious AAGL Congress, Lexi submitted an abstract summarizing her research. All abstracts submitted for consideration are meticulously graded by a scientific committee of expert surgeons who carefully select the lineup of presentations chosen for the AAGL’s Annual Congress. The 12-year-old’s abstract, “Do Children That Play Video Games Perform Better in Surgery?”, was selected for video presentation, making her the youngest presenter to present at a professional medical conference.
Lexi, who aspires to become a pediatric surgeon, grew up attending medical conferences with her parents. These experiences, encouragement from her parents and teachers, and her passion for science and learning, inspired her to begin her own research at age 11.
Finding that no study had ever investigated the laparoscopic surgical skills of children, Lexi set out to assess the impact of video game playing on surgical skill development. Lexi recruited 32 of her 11-year-old classmates who participated in the one-month experiment utilizing a laparoscopic trainer box paired with age-appropriate timed tasks. She then gathered and computed the data using grade-school mathematics. The study determined that children who spent an “average to above-average” amount of time playing video games performed better in completing a designed age-appropriate surgical task compared to children that play less. Lexi also documented other comparisons and analyses: older versus younger kids, gender, hand-dominance, musical players, and degree and type of video game experience.
According to Lexi, “the future of medicine and surgery relies on the next generation, and that is us, the children. Our findings may be used to guide the creation of games that promote hand-eye coordination skills that are important in surgery. Furthermore, the results may be used by institutions in formulating curriculums that enhance visual-motor skills in children.”
Lexi’s research data was submitted to Yale University for further bio-statistical analysis. This new analysis, paired with Lexi’s analysis and the body of research, will be in Lexi’s video presentation at the AAGL Global Congress. With an endearing exuberance and humility, Lexi exclaims, “this year, I was at the California Regional Spelling Bee, the Sacramento Academic Decathlon, and my essay won first place at school. But AAGL’s acceptance of this research is my highest accomplishment! Recently, I completed leadership, engineering, and graphic design courses at the Summer Institute for the Gifted. There, I created PowerPoint videos, that luckily prepared me for the AAGL conference!”
Last month, Lexi began writing a manuscript for submission to medical journals. Her manuscript will be in its authentic, pure, grade-school level style of writing while presenting real medical content. Lexi shares, “I hope to inspire other young students to be involved, and conduct their own investigations, in the field of medicine and surgery.”
The theme of the AAGL’s 2020 Virtual Congress, “Breaking Barriers,” represents overcoming the many barriers presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Lexi’s proud father, Dr. Dennis Mauricio, reflects, “Lexi serves as one of the many inspirations who attest: Anyone can succeed. At any age. At any time, even during COVID. The most important attribute about Lexi, though, is that she continues to be a humble and happy person.”
Register for the AAGL 2020 Global Congress today to hear this inspiring young presenter share her complete research.
AAGL is an international professional medical association of laparoscopic surgeons and the global leader in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery. AAGL’s mission is to elevate the quality and safety of health care for women through excellence in clinical practice, education, research, innovation, and advocacy. Since 1971, the AAGL has educated the world’s finest surgeons and facilitated a global exchange of information regarding gynecological breakthroughs and best practices to improve women’s health worldwide. Find out more about the AAGL at: www.aagl.org.
For more information, please contact Linda Michels, Executive Director, AAGL, at 714-503-6204 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For Immediate Release (9/8/20)
AAGL to Host Virtual Global Congress on Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery, November 6-14, 2020.
The American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL) announces the 49th Annual Global Congress on Minimally Invasive Gynecologic Surgery (MIGS), held virtually, November 6-14, 2020. AAGL’s Congress, the premier scientific conference for gynecologic surgeons from around the world, offers high-quality education and cutting-edge best practices in MIGS.
This year, the AAGL Congress is expected to welcome a record number of physicians, both domestic and international, through an all virtual format. The theme of the AAGL’s 2020 Virtual Congress, “Breaking Barriers” represents overcoming the many barriers presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prerecorded courses for registered participants are available from October 19, 2020 to April 1, 2021. Live sessions begin virtually on November 6 with thoughtful time consideration for a worldwide audience.
The robust, nine-day, expanded scientific program meticulously developed by Dr. Ted Lee and the Scientific Program Committee, has something for everyone. It includes 19 interactive postgraduate courses, numerous CME (continuing medical education) opportunities, 24 open communication sessions, 8 plenary sessions, 9 panel discussions, 8 surgical tutorials, chat rooms with mentoring by MIGS experts, a poster hall with narration from presenters, and more than 12+ live-streamed surgeries.
Three dynamic general sessions punctuate the event including an address by this year’s keynote speaker, the highly acclaimed researcher and educator, Carla Pugh, MD, PhD. Dr. Pugh’s groundbreaking innovations are dramatically reshaping how physicians learn to practice medicine.
In addition to the exciting program line up, the AAGL Virtual Congress has fun social events and an interactive virtual exhibit hall. AAGL’s Virtual Exhibit Hall is an engaging online environment with digital product booths staffed by industry representatives, LIVE product theaters and an in-booth meeting scheduler to connect attendees with the latest innovations in medical devices and technology.
“The AAGL 2020 Virtual Congress is an incredible, unprecedented opportunity for learning. We are breaking barriers by providing language translation of program content in real-time and removing travel, cost and time limitations allowing us to extend our reach and equip more minimally invasive gynecologic surgeons throughout the world than ever before.” Ted T.M. Lee, MD, 2020 Scientific Program Chair and Vice President, AAGL.
AAGL is a professional medical association of laparoscopic surgeons and is the global leader in minimally invasive gynecologic surgery. AAGL’s mission is to elevate the quality and safety of health care for women through excellence in clinical practice, education, research, innovation, and advocacy. For the last 51 years, the AAGL has created a culture of contribution among its members and facilitated a worldwide exchange of information regarding gynecological breakthroughs and best practices. These trusted, professional relationships and long earned respect for each other’s medical expertise made the formation of this webinar possible. Find out more about the AAGL at: www.aagl.org.
For more information please contact Linda Michels, Executive Director, AAGL, at 714-503-6204 or email@example.com.
Released: August 27, 2020
American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists (AAGL), American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) along with American Board of Obstetrics & Gynecology (ABOG), American College of Osteopathic Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOOG), American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society (AGOS), American Osteopathic Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology (AOBOG), American Society for Colposcopy and Cervical Pathology (ASCCP), American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM), American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS), Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO), Council of University Chairs of Obstetrics and Gynecology (CUCOG), Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology (CREOG), Infectious Diseases Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology (IDSOG), National Medical Association (NMA), Society for Academic Specialists in General Obstetrics and Gynecology (SASGOG), Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM), Society for Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (SREI), Society of Family Planning (SFP), Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO), Society of Gynecologic Surgeons (SGS) – release a unified action plan addressing racism as outlined below.
As our nation confronts systemic racism and consequences of persistent inequities and disparate outcomes in health care, our organizations—which include the leading professional organizations in the fields of obstetrics and gynecology—are committed to changing the culture of medicine, eliminating racism and racial inequities that lead to disparate health outcomes, and promoting equity in women’s health and health care. Our commitment to a better future requires an honest examination of the past and the present.
Recognizing that race is a social construct, not biologically based, is important to understanding that racism, not race, impacts health care, health, and health outcomes. Systemic and institutional racism are pervasive in our country and in our country’s health care institutions, including the fields of obstetrics and gynecology.
Many examples of foundational advances in the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology are rooted in racism and oppression. For example, the mid-1800s surgical experimentation of James Marion Sims leading to successful treatment of vesicovaginal fistula was performed on enslaved Black women, including three women, Betsey, Lucy, and Anarcha, who underwent repetitive gynecologic procedures without consent.
Additionally, among many injustices, women of color have been subject to sterilization and experimentation with high-dose hormonal contraception without consent.
It is beyond the scope of this document to describe all the injustices inextricably linked to the fields of obstetrics and gynecology or recognize all the contributions made both willingly and unwillingly by oppressed and marginalized persons. Our organizations commit to working with scholars, advocates, and activists with diverse expertise and experiences as part of an intentional, sustained, and team-based effort to more extensively acknowledge the wide range of injustices.
We recognize that history weighs upon on the present and the future. Racism in overt and covert forms persists in the delivery of health care. Black women are three times more likely to experience maternal mortality or severe maternal morbidity than white women. American Indian and Alaska Native women experience adverse maternal outcomes at a greater rate than white women. Black and Latinx populations experience higher rates of mortality from cervical cancer than white women. Unacceptable inequities in access to care and outcomes are not limited to these examples; inequities are found across our specialty including reproductive and gynecological health care. Differences in outcomes result from many factors, including racism and bias in access to and delivery of quality health care, and must be acknowledged and addressed.
Eliminating inequities in women’s health care requires transformational change. Our organizations are committed to making this change and pledge, individually and collectively, to undertake the following initial actions:
• Collaboration: Our organizations recognize that transformative work is being done within the profession and the broader public health community by committed advocates, activists, scholars, and leaders. We will collaboratively consult, support, and partner with those presently engaged and leading work to achieve racial justice, reproductive justice, and equity in women’s health care.
• Education: We are committed to active listening and education in obstetrics and gynecology and in the broader women’s health community about the profession’s history and role in the oppression and mistreatment of Black enslaved women, Black women, and other women of color in the name of scientific advancement. Drawing upon the expertise of scholars, advocates, and activists, curricula will be developed and available to medical and health professional students, residents, faculty, practicing obstetricians, gynecologists, and all health care professionals.
• Recognition: We are committed to officially designating February 28 and March 1, the dates that bridge Black History and Women’s History months, as days for formal acknowledgment of Betsey, Lucy, and Anarcha, the enslaved women operated on by Dr. J. Marion Sims, and other enslaved Black women who were subjected to abuse in the name of advancing science.
• Scholarship, research, publication, guidance: Racism continues to be prevalent in research, in its conduct as well as its scholarship and publication. We will promote the conduct of research, publications, presentations, and other types of programming that incorporate anti-racism and address systemic and institutional racism manifested through disparate outcomes. We will make intentional and concerted efforts to support research that ethically addresses the needs of Black and Indigenous populations and populations of color and to promote the work and scholarship of physicians, clinicians, and public health professionals of color. We are committed to a comprehensive review of scholarship, clinical documents, research, and publication guidelines produced or directed through our organizations to address racism, in particular ensuring that race is not treated as a biological factor.
• Inclusive Excellence: We will work to achieve greater diversity and inclusion in the leadership of our own organizations at all levels. We will adopt policies and procedures that facilitate these goals and create an equitable and inclusive organizational culture. Within the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology, we will support policies, procedures, and the development of professional cultures where people of color are supported and promoted.
• Caring for patients and communities: We will work to ensure that health care is free from racism and bias. We will recognize the impact that history, racism, and violence have on our patients and their communities. We will treat discrimination and racism as evidence-based risk factors for poor health outcomes and will teach and encourage clinicians to recognize this in caring for patients. We will lift up, support, and amplify the work that community-based organizations, advocates, and activists are doing to advance reproductive justice and equity in the delivery of health care.
• Policy and advocacy: We will collectively advocate for public policies that seek to eliminate racial and other inequities in the delivery of health care and in health outcomes, including policies addressing systemic and institutional inequities outside of health care that lead to poor health outcomes.
Our organizations recognize that these actions require sustained, intentional commitment. We also recognize that to embark on this work will require team-based approaches with measurable goals and accountability structures. We also recognize that while these initial actions are a starting point, more work will need to be done. Through active listening, discernment, and humility, we will—individually and collectively—expand upon these actions and objectives as we undertake a commitment to embrace antiracism, learn and unlearn, change the culture of medicine, and eliminate racism and racial bias in the delivery of women’s health care.
To download the PDF, click here.
Released: June 9, 2020
The recent death of George Floyd has brought increased attention to the issues of racial injustice and systemic racism that exist in the United States, and elsewhere in the world. AAGL believes that Black lives matter and is committed to addressing the inequalities and biases that many of our members and patients experience every day.
We know that many health care providers are not treated equally in academic and professional settings based on the color of their skin or their background. We know that Black, Hispanic, and Native patients have inferior outcomes and less commonly receive minimally invasive surgery compared to White patients. We know that these issues affect other groups as well, as has recently been brought to light with examples of anti-Asian hostility in the wake of COVID-19.
As an organization, we stand united against racism and discrimination in all forms. Words alone, although important, are not enough. We as a global body will strive to address the structural and systemic issues of bias and injustice that affect our members and the patients we serve. We are committed to addressing these issues within our own organization and promoting clinical and professional equity for all. This is not a straightforward or simple task, and we do not intend to make empty pledges of support. Therefore, we will be tasking the Diversity & Inclusion Committee with forming an Anti-Racism task force to develop tangible measures we can take to combat racism and discrimination.
We want to listen to you, our members. Let us know what support you need. Please submit your comments and suggestions to the Anti-Racism Initiative by clicking here.
AAGL remains committed to equity, equality, and respect for all.
Jubilee Brown, MD