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In the Media

article imageDid a doctor remove a woman's genitalia without her consent?

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By Kim I. Hartman
Nov 27, 2010 in Crime
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Sydney - The jury was split and unable to come to a majority decision in the case of gynecologist who allegedly "deliberately" performed a massively disfiguring operation on a female patient without her consent, leaving her without her entire genitalia.
The doctor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is standing trial in the Sydney District Court charged with maliciously inflicting grievous bodily harm on Carolyn De Waegenaire, as well as an offence of excising or extracting her clitoris unnecessarily.
The doctor has pleaded not guilty, and today his barrister told the jury his client performed the operation because he was “trying to save her life”, according to Australia's Daily Telegraph.
The jury foreman told Judge Greg Woods in Sydney's Downing Centre District Court today that the jury was split and could not agree on a verdict. "We are split on issues that are not going to be resolved," he said. "The numbers are more or less divided down the middle."
Judge Woods thanked the jury before discharging them, reported the Herald Sun.
"Let me say thank you on behalf of the community on the diligent effort you have made in this exercise," he said, adding that some cases were "just very difficult. You have obviously decided correctly to give effect to your conscientious views."
The five women and seven men had been deliberating since Monday, following the trial that began on November 3.
Carolyn DeWaegeneire went to a NSW hospital in August 2002 for what she believed was to be a simple procedure to remove a pre-cancerous lesion from her labia.
The then 58-year-old awoke from surgery in pain, "horrified" that her clitoris and vulva had been removed. The doctor has claimed he explained the procedure to the patient, including that there would be a change in appearance and sensation of her genitals, said the news report.
A jury of five women and seven men on Monday heard the doctor take offence to crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen's allegation that the gynecological specialist had changed his notes about the case.
In other testimony the doctor said, "We discussed the procedure, she inquired how long it would take and the length of her recovery," the doctor told the court as reported by Yahoo! 7 News.
Crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen asked him: "She didn't burst into tears, screaming, saying, 'Isn't there anything else that can be done?'"
"Didn't that make you think this woman didn't understand you meant to take her entire vulva and clitoris?"
The doctor replied that he had drawn diagrams for Ms DeWaegeneire, showing the area he intended to remove, but conceded he did not specifically mention the clitoris.
"Did you tell her she would be grossly mutilated by this surgery?" Ms Cunneen asked.
"No, I didn't use that term," the doctor replied.
He said Ms DeWaegeneire asked him about sexual intercourse after the operation, adding that she was not sexually active at the time and that her husband had died in 2001, added the Yahoo report.
"You didn't tell her, did you, that her sexual response would be virtually nil after this operation?" MS Cunneen asked.
The doctor replied: "I didn't discuss orgasm, if that's what you mean, but I said that the feeling would be different.
"I accept that without a clitoris orgasm is not possible ... but I have looked after women who have had simple vulvectomy who have had quite satisfactory sex lives with their husband."
Prosecutor Cunneen responded, "I put it to you that you never showed her any diagrams and if you had told her of the proposed surgery ... she would have screamed the house down and run out of your surgery and never had the procedure."
The Australian reports, the new trial will begin on January 31.
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