Define Symphysiotomy: Breaking a Woman’s Pelvis to Prevent Miscarriage

Holy Hormones Honey! Breaking a woman’s pelvis for religious reasons – not medical reasons in a ‘Maternity Theatre’ for all to see. Horrifying, victimizing and abhorrent.  But a part of our history.

Irish doctors broke women’s pelvis’ to prevent miscarriage – documentary reveals horrors of recent medical procedure

Irish Central
IrishCentral Staff Writer

November 16, 2012
Published Friday, November 16, 2012, 8:16 AM

A Maternity Theatre

A symphysiotomyis a painful surgical procedure that was used in maternity hospitals across Ireland in the 20th century. Often performed in the place of a Caesarean section, symphysiotomies involved breaking the woman’s pelvis during childbirth.

Victims contend the procedure was often carried out for religious rather than medical reasons, in order to prevent women needing repeated future caesareans and therefore wanting to use birth control.

According to the, The Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SOS) group claim that the operations, which had profound and life altering effects on each woman, were carried out without prior knowledge or consent ‘mainly for religious reasons, by obstetricians who were opposed to family planning.’

Other problems associated with the procedure include chronic lifelong back pain and incontinence.
At a recent gathering of women who had the procedure performed against their knowledge, 86-year-old Rita McCann said, ‘I came on the Luas (Dublin tram) and I didn’t know if the cinema was on this side or the other. Then I spotted two women and said, ‘I’m sure they are heading for it.’ When you see the limps going you get the message.’


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Irish woman awarded $600,000 over barbaric broken pelvis birth procedure
Doctors encouraged by church to use the procedure rather than Caesarean birth

By JAMES FOLEY, Staff Writer
Published Saturday, March 24, 2012, 9:05 AM

An Irish woman who had a symphysiotomy performed after childbirth in 1969 has been awarded €450,000 ($600,000) for medical negligence.

Symphysiotomy was a procedure to break the pelvis during a difficult birth and was carried out on about 1,500 women in Ireland between 1944 and 1992.

An Irish parliamentary hearing has heard how the barbaric practise took place. Many doctors, encouraged by the Catholic Church, apparently carried it out because it was felt that it gave  a better opportunity than Caesarean births for the mother to become pregnant again.

The lobby group Survivors of Symphysiotomy said it was a deliberately performed procedure.

“Symphysiotomy was a maverick practice, a barbarous procedure that should never have been performed except in the direst of emergencies.

“The surgery was exhumed at the National Maternity Hospital by doctors who were hostile to the idea of family planning and who were looking to replace Caesarean sections with an operation that would facilitate large families.”

Cavan-Monaghan TD Heather Humphries (FG) said she felt “physically sick” when women told how they were “restrained, with their arms pulled back and held down for the procedure to take place.”
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Tell Ireland to Stop Obstructing Justice for Symphysiotomy Victims


Author: Leslie Carol Botha

Author, publisher, radio talk show host and internationally recognized expert on women's hormone cycles. Social/political activist on Gardasil the HPV vaccine for adolescent girls. Co-author of "Understanding Your Mood, Mind and Hormone Cycle." Honorary advisory board member for the Foundation for the Study of Cycles and member of the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research.

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