June 17, 2015 — A woman who was forced to have an episiotomy against her consent has filed an assault-and-battery lawsuit against her obstetrician and published a disturbing video of the entire delivery online.
The Daily Beast reports that the woman, 27 year-old Kimberly Turbin, gave birth to her son at California’s Providence Tarzana Medical Center in 2013.
Turbin was in labor and on her third push when her physician, Dr. Alex Abbassi, told her he was going to do an episiotomy — a surgical cut of the perineum, from the vagina to the anus — to hurry the delivery.
The video shows Turbin clearly saying “No, don’t cut me!” When Turbin asked why she could not try to deliver the baby without an episiotomy, Abbassi said “What do you mean, ‘Why’? I am the expert here, OK? You can go home and do it! You go to Kentucky!”
According to the lawsuit, Turbin’s medical record stated that she refused any surgical intervention and no emergency during the birth necessitated the procedure. She says she was turned down by more than 80 lawyers, but ultimately persuaded a civil rights attorney to take the case.
According to Physicians Weekly:
“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.’”
In 2006, the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) recommended restricted use of episiotomies.
Routine episiotomies were once thought to prevent more extensive tears during childbirth, and the majority of women who gave birth in a hospital between the 1950s and 1970s received one. It was not until the 1980s that studies showed episiotomies could actually cause more harm than good.
Risks of an episiotomy include infection, massive tearing, rectal incontinence, chronic pain, sexual problems, and more. Studies also suggest that women who have an episiotomy do not have significantly improved labor, delivery, and recovery compared with those who do not have one.