A woman was arrested for performing pap smears on her dog. She was charged with animal cruelty and sent to jail.
Yet women are expected to tolerate the same exam. Women are expected to lay down and take it, often without being told anything about the exam’s purpose or the potential for harm. And doctors often don’t tell women about their right to refuse the exam.
Some might argue that, logically, pap smears on women are not likewise considered cruelty because this procedure has the potential to extend lifespan. But the people who make this argument likely have not been shown all the facts about pap smears. For instance, many of the “abnormalities” that pap smears hope to find could instead be found through less invasive tests. And pap smears rampantly show false positives, which often leads to more harm than good; women’s healthy cervix’s have been damaged from unnecessary surgeries and/or biopsies to the point where these women cannot bear children. Not to mention the psychologically damaging effects of the test.
So in fact, there is just as much potential for harm when women undergo pap tests as there would be for dogs, except women often live with the consequences for many decades, whereas at least any dogs traumatized by the experience would see an end to their misery in a few short years.
Pap smears are considered animal cruelty in a court of law, but women are expected to think of them as “no big deal”.
Pap smears performed on dogs are a criminal offense, but when done to women they are considered “health care”.
Link to news article about woman’s arrest: http://archive.digtriad.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=26676
Informed consent for cervical cancer screening: http://www.bmj.com/rapid-response/2011/10/28/women-informed-consent-and-cervical-screening
Why female doctor does not have pap smears: http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog_posts/2234123-why-i-don-t-have-smears
What doctors don’t want you to know: https://forwomenseyesonly.com/2012/11/13/what-doctors-dont-want-you-to-know-about-pap-tests-and-pelvic-exams/
Thank you to Ozphoenix and Ro, whose comments were the inspiration for this post, and thank you also to Elizabeth (Aust), who provided the link to the article about informed consent.