Amputation: Out on a limb

By Randy Dotinga



Salon Staff
September 14, 2000 11:36PM (UTC)

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I wish Randy Dotinga would have been more accurate and not shooting for sensationalism in his writing. There is no need for sensationalism in this topic -- the truth is interesting enough, you don't need to write mistruths. You report that I am "infuriated by ... incompetent media coverage." Dotinga is among the incompetents to whom I refer. I did not know I "vowed to continue to hunt for a surgeon." None of the reporters know what I or my colleague have discovered in our research or what is forthcoming in the diagnosis of this syndrome, nor has any one of them asked. J. Money did not come up with the original research in this area, I went to him in the '70s with the original data. In the meantime, the text that the surgeon in Scotland and I have completed is available via 1stBooks

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-- Gregg Furth

Cut off a perfectly healthy leg?

Hell, why not?

What business is it of anybody's but the person who wants the limb gone?

This debate, which ought not to be a public one, brings back ugly memories of my own four-year-long (and ultimately fruitless) search for a physician who would "allow" me to "maim" myself -- i.e., have tubal ligation. Why, everybody asked (including many who had no business even entertaining the question, let alone answering it -- nurses, in-laws, uncles, cousins and physicians alike), should a healthy young woman (in my 20s at the time) be allowed to have a surgical procedure that's perfectly legal, covered by insurance and (at least nominally) elective?

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Suffice it to say, I gave up having never found a medical "provider" willing to free me from the eternal threat of biological kidnapping by a parasite. I remain, to this day, a slave to my ovaries. The fact that my husband (also in his 20s) was able to waltz into the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic and be vasectomized without so much as an "Are you sure?" simply added insult to injury.

Elective cosmetic surgery is currently transforming a graduate student into something that looks very much like a lizard; multiple piercings permanently "disfigure" hundreds of thousands every year; tattoos don't cause a blink of an eye. Why should anybody object if a very few, very ill people seek the comfort of a procedure as radical as limb removal? It is, after all, their own body.

"Meshugeneh" or not, whose business is it, really, but theirs?

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If I were religious, I'd be praying for the day when even our own bodies were truly ours to do with as we please. Until then, what's the real meaning of "freedom"?

-- Denise Bryson


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