1,500 Irish women were victims of symphysiotomy between 1944 and 1992. A symphysiotomy is a barbaric procedure where the obstetrician breaks a woman’s pelvis, cutting it into two to facilitate the delivery of her baby. This procedure was discontinued and replaced by a caesarean operation in the early part of the 20th century in the developed world, except in Ireland.
These medical professionals abused their power by performing completely unnecessary and damaging procedures on women who were at their most vulnerable. The procedures were concealed, the women were not given information before or after the surgery and their consent was not sought or given.
Women who have had a symphysiotomy suffered permanent damage as a result. Many women have suffered a life of pain and discomfort because of incontinence, chronic pain, prolapsed organs, neurological and psychological problems. What is even more disturbing is that most of the women who underwent this procedure were not aware of it until several years later or until very recently.
Yesterday the Supreme Court upheld a High Court decision that a symphysiotomy carried out on an 18 year old in 1969 was “entirely unjustified and unwarranted”. The woman in this case did not know that she had a symphysiotomy until almost 33 years later when she heard a radio programme about it. She suffered chronic on-going pain, continuous back pain, incontinence and depression as a result of the symphysiotomy. The Supreme Court awarded compensation in the sum of €325,000.
If you have been a victim of this brutal form of birth intervention, which may have harmed you or your baby, you may be able to make a claim for compensation.