A campaign group has called for compensation of between €250,000 and €450,000 for women injured as a result of their pelvises being broken in “barbaric” surgical procedures during childbirth.
Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SoS) spokeswoman Marie O’Connor said the women had their lives ruined by the surgical procedure and deserved a “fair and just settlement”.
The women continue to suffer pain and problems with mobility. Some have been left incontinent and, in many cases, the hip bones have not healed, decades later.
Ms O’Connor described a soon-to-be-published Walsh report on a compensation scheme for survivors as the product of “a veneer of consultation”.
SoS, representing more than 200 women, claimed at a press conference in Dublin yesterday that the Department of Health only held talks on a compensation scheme with Patient Focus — an advocacy group it funds. It has warned against a “Magdalene-type” redress scheme.
However, the department later stated that the claim it was in talks with Patient Focus was “not correct”.
Ms O’Connor said that SoS wanted individual settlements ranging from €250,000 to €450,000, with the highest payouts for those most grievously injured.
She said about 80% of the operations were undertaken in private hospitals which have insurance, so the taxpayer should only be liable for about 20% of any payouts.
The founder of the group, Matilda Behan, 83, from Ringsend, Dublin, told how she was restrained by two nurses who held her hands above her shoulders. Two doctors pulled her legs apart and immobilised her to allow the symphysiotomy be carried out at the National Maternity Hospital in Holles St in 1958.
“I have since discovered the implement used to saw my pelvis in half was similar to those used by hunters in which the butcher kills an animal quickly while still on site in the field,” she said.
“We feel every Irishwoman is entitled to give birth safely in Irish hospitals and we need to let them know that, even at our age, we refuse to accept these injustices.”
Ellen Moore, 69, from Ballyvaughan, Co Clare, has suffered the horrible consequences of symphysiotomy since the birth of her first child in a Midlands hospital in 1965.
She was just 22 years of age when her son was born in Tullamore Hospital and knows nothing of the birth. Ms Moore said she had numerous surgical procedures since and was in continual pain.
“I am living with the consequences of the brutality that I suffered for no reason. I should have had a caesarean section,” she said.
Ms Moore said she, like other members of SoS, was looking for redress for the pain and suffering she had endured for almost 50 years after undergoing such a barbaric procedure. “And why not? We are owed it,” she said.
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