Maine has joined a growing number of states that prohibit the performance of a pelvic examination on an anesthetized or unconscious patient without the oral or written informed consent specific to the pelvic examination by the patient or a patient representative. The proposed Maine legislation will also include rectal and prostate exams. Emergency situations are exempt from consent. Exceptions are made for medically necessary diagnostic or treatment purposes when the patient requires immediate medical attention and an attempt to secure consent would delay treatment, thus increasing risk to the patient’s life or health.
New York, Maryland, Utah, and Delaware have passed similar laws in 2019. In addition, California, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Oregon and Virginia have made this practice illegal with more states on the way.
In 2011 (reaffirmed in 2017), ACOG released a committee opinion that states explicitly
Pelvic examinations on an anesthetized woman that offer her no personal benefit and are performed solely for teaching purposes should be performed only with her specific informed consent obtained before her surgery.
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