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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