Forum needed for Symphysiotomy survivors

Friday, 16th March 2012


Symphysiotomy survivors deserve Truth and Reconciliation Forum


Fine Gael TD for Wicklow/East Carlow, Andrew Doyle,

has today called for a Truth and Reconciliation Forum to be established to provide answers to the 1,500 women who received symphysiotomy procedures in Irish maternity hospitals between 1944 and 1983.

“The 1,500 women who were subjected to symphysiotomy procedures during childbirth deserve answers to their questions as to why they had to endure this highly debilitating procedure. I believe a Truth and Reconciliation Forum on the symphysiotomy debacle should be established in the same vein as peace and reconciliation efforts on our island previously.

“The procedure had horrendous long term physical and psychological impact on many of the women concerned. They were left disfigured, incontinent and in severe lifelong pain as a result of the procedure. Many women have spoken of the impact their injuries had on their marriages and their confidence.

“We need to investigate and acknowledge the wrong that was done to these women. The whole episode raises serious questions about how the State and the medical profession regarded women. We need to know why Irish hospitals re-introduced this practice in 1944, long after the rest of the developed world had stopped using it.

“These women were treated very poorly by the State. Many of the medical records of the women in relation to the birth of their children have disappeared. The story of these women is made all the more lamentable by the fact that the option of a Caesarean section was not pursued.

“Men and women are united in their shock and abhorrence of the horrific situation that these women had to endure. I am the eldest of 8 children and am grateful that my 81 year old mother was not subjected to this awful procedure, which many women of her generation were.

“I believe that in order to create a better society for the future we need to acknowledge our history. A Truth and Reconciliation Forum on symphysiotomy would help us to learn from the mistakes of the past and would help these women get answers on why they were subjected to this procedure.”