Campaigners want Govt inquiry as woman loses symphysiotomy damages action

Campaigners want Govt inquiry as woman loses symphysiotomy damages action
The Coombe Hospital in Dublin.

Campaigners are calling for a Government inquiry into symphysiotomy, after a 76-year-old woman lost a High Court damages action for injuries she allegedly suffered in a Dublin hospital over 50 years ago.

The woman claimed the procedure took place 12 days before she gave birth, without her knowledge.

She argued it was unjustified and left her with lifelong pain and incontinence.

In his judgment, Mr Justice Kevin Cross found that while symphysiotomy was controversial back in the 1960s, this case failed to prove it was a "practice without justification".

The woman at the centre of the damages action is a 76-year-old former factory worker who underwent symphysiotomy at the Coombe hospital in Dublin, 12 days before the birth of her first child in 1963.

The woman did not know the procedure was being carried out, but said afterwards she felt like she had been "split apart" and she claims it has left her with lifelong pain

Mark Kelly Director of Irish Council for Civil Liberties says elderly women should not have to convince a judge they have suffered permanent harm.

The Government has introduced a redress scheme for survivors of symphysiotomy, but campaigners say its defective, and is no substitute for a full inquiry into the practice.


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