New Findings on Unconsented Intimate Exams Suggest Racial Bias and Gender Parity


Lori Bruce, Ivar R. Hannikainen, Brian D. Earp

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Bruce, L., Hannikainen, I.R. and Earp, B.D. (2022), New Findings on Unconsented Intimate Exams Suggest Racial Bias and Gender Parity. Hastings Center Report, 52: 7-9. DOI: 10.1002/hast.1349
Testimony from hundreds of medical students and numerous physicians and scholars suggests that unconsented intimate exams (UIEs) are unlikely to be rare, isolated incidents. However, much is unknown about the frequency of these exams and the circumstances in which they take place. The Community Bioethics Forum, founded and chaired by one of the authors of this commentary, is a consultative group of diverse community members who provide insights on law and policy to policy-makers and medical associations. Connecticut legislators asked the CBF to provide their views on proposed “explicit consent” legislation, and during those discussions, concerning narratives emerged about members’ (and their loved ones’) personal experiences with UIEs. To gain greater clarity on the demographic patterns and frequency of UIEs, we conducted the first national survey on UIEs. Data from this survey suggest that UIEs may occur under a broader range of circumstances than addressed by most law and policy. The survey resulted in nearly the exact same rate of affirmative responses between males and females in answer to whether they had received a UIE within the past five years. The survey results also showed evidence of racial disparity. Additional research is needed to understand the nature of UIEs.
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