[Sinn Fein]

27 May 2003

Dáil is told that full and thorough investigation into Symphysiotomy operations needed

Louth  Deputy  Arthur  Morgan  this  evening  raised  the plight of survivors ofSymphysiotomy  with the Minister for State at the Department Health and ChildrenBrian  Lenihan  T.D.,  in  the Dáil. The Sinn Fein deputy was speaking during anadjournment  debate  which  he  had  requested to discuss the failure to providevictims  of  symphysiotomy  with  any  explanation  as to why this procedure wascarried out on them without their knowledge or consent.

Deputy  Morgan  called  on  the  Minister  to  instigate  a  full  and  thoroughinvestigation  into  the  symphysiotomies  carried  out  on women in Our Lady ofLourdes  Hospital  Drogheda  and  elsewhere  in  the  1950's, 1960's, 1970's and1980's.

Deputy Morgan said

``I am deeply concerned that the Minister for Health and Children and the medicalprofession   have   failed  to  provide  answers  in  relation  to  the  use  ofsymphysiotomies (sawing through the pelvis bone) in obstetrical practice and thedisturbingly  high  number  of cases (349) which were carried out in Our Lady OfLourdes Hospital in Drogheda.  The last recorded case was at Our Lady of LourdesHospital in 1983.

``I would call on the Minister to meet with the victims of symphysiotomy, so thathe could hear at first hand, as I did, the barbarity and brutality that wasinflicted upon these women.

``The  Minister  must  address  the  complete  inadequacy  of the report >from theInstitute  of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists into this matter and must examinethe role of the Catholic Church in promoting this abusive procedure.

``There is strong evidence that the Catholic church promoted this procedure whichpermanently  widened  the birth canal as they feared that women who had repeatedsections would go on the pill or be sterilised.

``These  women  deserve,  in  the  same  way  of  the  victims of the Hepatitis Cinfections  and  the  Haemophiliacs  infected  with  AIDS  deserved a governmentenquiry  into  the  carrying out of this brutal practice.  Those who carried outthese  procedures  must  be  held  accountable.   The  victims  of this barbaricprocedure  deserve  clear answers as to why they were subjected to such barbarictreatment  and  the  Minister  must  address what provision will be made for themedical  needs  of  these  women  who  continue suffer greatly as a result of anoutdated medical  procedure which was carried out on them without their consent.Women  who  underwent  this  procedure  have  suffered terrible pain, back pain,incontinence and depression and other ensuing problems such as martial break up.''The  Minister's  response  to  me in the Dáil suggested that this procedure wasacceptable at the time and shouldn't be judged `inlight of current knowledge andexperience'.    However   I  wish  to  state  that  it  was  heavily  criticisedinternationally from as far back as the 1950s.

``The  Minister  must  not  turn  a  deaf  ear  to  suffering of the survivors ofsymphyiostomy''.   ENDS

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