New Jersey Senate votes to ban public pelvic exams that affect minorities, poor women

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Trenton – The Senate today approved legislation sponsored by Senators Fred Madden and Shirley Turner that would prohibit invasive examinations of an unconscious patient by a health care practitioner without a patient’s prior informed written consent.

The bill, S-1771, would provide that healthcare practitioners may not perform an invasive examination of a patient while the patient is under general anesthesia or otherwise unconscious without the patient providing informed written consent to the invasive examination.

“Patients should be fully aware of the procedures that they will be undergoing while under anesthesia. Informed written consent should be, without question, a requirement for patients,” said Senator Madden (D-Camden/Gloucester). “No individual should be subjected to being operated on or even touched while unconscious without their consent to their medical provider.”

“Pelvic exams in teaching hospitals are oftentimes conducted on anesthetized, unconscious patients. This practice disproportionately affects women of color and/or individuals from lower income communities. Needless to say, this practice can be traumatic, especially for those that are survivors of sexual assault,” said Senator Turner (D-Mercer/Hunterdon). “With informed written consent, the patient is able to maintain their power and ensure that their healthcare provider respects their boundaries.”

The practice of conducting pelvic exams on nonconsenting patients has been banned in ten states, including Delaware, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Utah, and Virginia.


The bill was passed by a vote of (39-0).