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Symphysiotomy Scandal
 
# 1 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 11:54
 
 
Symphysiotomy is a discredited and obsolete childbirth operation originating in the late 16th century that involves cutting open the pelvis. In the late 1800s, the risk of the mother dying after caesarean section decreased due to improvements in techniques, so thereafter the symphysiotomy was rarely used.

Except in Ireland. It remained in use in Ireland until as recently as the 1980s and hundreds of women, who were subjected to the surgery without their knowledge, say they were left with serious, chronic side-effects, including walking disabilities, long term pain, incontinence and depression.

Doctors here chose to perform this procedure instead of Caesarean section (a safer alternative) because they saw Caesareans as leading women into temptation, the ‘temptation’ to use contraception. Ireland was the only country in the developed world where this procedure was widely used.

Is there no end to these horrors from the past?

http://www.rte.ie/news/2010/0219/symphysiotomy.html
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# 2 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 12:05
 
 
More info here:

Symphysiotomy is a surgical operation in which the pubic bone is sawn apart and then re-set so as to dramatically increase the size of the pelvic outlet to permit delivery of a baby. It is an alternative to a Caesarian section, but frequently results in dreadful after-effects, such as

- taking a year to learn to walk again,
- unable ever to lift weights (or babies),
- permanent back pain,
- lifelong incontinence.

Between 1950 and 1983, up to a thousand such operations were conducted on women in Irish maternity hospitals, when in the vast majority of cases the baby could have been safely delivered by Caesarian section. The medical need for a symphysiotomy is very rare.

The Irish obstetricians' [...] reasoning for embracing the procedure so enthusiastically was as follows.

Once a symphysiotomy has been conducted, future childbirths are relatively straightforward thanks to the widened exit.

In the case of a Caesarian, however, a fresh operation is needed for each childbirth. Understandably, the prospect of this might make the mother want to limit the number of her children. And that means she will be tempted to [...] practice birth control, which is contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church and until the 1990s was banned in Ireland.

Those [...] doctors therefore performed symphysiotomies simply to remove the enticement to sin. And they told their patients neither that they were going to do it nor that they had done it. Nor did they bother to warn them about the awful side-effects that could follow. Many women, after suffering from these for 40 years, are only now learning the reason for their perpetual poor health.


http://www.tallrite.com/weblog/archives/september03.htm#Symphysio etc ...
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# 3 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 12:08
 
 
My American boss in a old job was so terrified of the hospitals here, that she made the surgeon sign an agreement that he would not remove or interfere with any organs unrelated to her surgery. This was back in the mid 90s.
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# 4 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 12:31
 
 
Doctors here chose to perform this procedure instead of Caesarean section (a safer alternative) because they saw Caesareans as leading women into temptation, the ‘temptation’ to use contraception. Ireland was the only country in the developed world where this procedure was widely used.
/I]

How would a cesarean lead a woman to be tempted to use contraception?.


Once a symphysiotomy has been conducted, future childbirths are relatively straightforward thanks to the widened exit./I]

P rimetime did a bit about this last night and logically I thought the above was the reason it was more a cold economic decision, in a poor country with limited resources, rather than a church moral driven 1.

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# 5 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 12:45
 
 
After cesarean births, the womb is scarred and needs time to heal, so best advise is not to become pregnant for 18 mths to 2yrs, also subsequent births are likely to be cesarean and this surgery increases in risk the more often it is performed. Common sence would lead Dr.'s to advise use of contraception but this is/was against the catholic ethos of many of our hospitals.
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# 6 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 12:47
 
 
Someone said :

How would a cesarean lead a woman to be tempted to use contraception?.


Once a symphysiotomy has been conducted, future childbirths are relatively straightforward thanks to the widened exit./I]

Primetime did a bit about this last night and logically I thought the above was the reason it was more a cold economic decision, in a poor country with limited resources, rather than a church moral driven 1.

Caesareans are more difficult for the woman, apparently and hence she might be thinking "Feck that, I'm not going through all that bother again. I'm going on the pill". That's my understanding anyway....
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# 7 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 12:49
 
 
Someone said :
My American boss in a old job was so terrified of the hospitals here, that she made the surgeon sign an agreement that he would not remove or interfere with any organs unrelated to her surgery. This was back in the mid 90s.

Which makes us look like Iran or Sudan....

Meanwhile, an unwelcome reminder of another horror....

Disgraced doctor Michael Neary has accused women who underwent a "barbaric" obstetric procedure of "smelling money".

The doctor was struck off the register for wrongly removing the wombs of his patients at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda over some 20 years.

Confronted about another procedure known as symphysiotomy, the obstetrician asked: "Is it the smell of money that is getting at them?"


http://www.independent.ie/national-news/barbaric-surgery-continue etc ...
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# 8 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 13:07
 
 
Someone said :
After cesarean births, the womb is scarred and needs time to heal, so best advise is not to become pregnant for 18 mths to 2yrs, also subsequent births are likely to be cesarean and this surgery increases in risk the more often it is performed. Common sence would lead Dr.'s to advise use of contraception but this is/was against the catholic ethos of many of our hospitals.

To my very basic understanding of it, a woman would be back on her feet a lot quicker after undergoing a caesarian rather than a symphysiotomy but if she had a C section she would likely need another one for her next child. So if contraception was unavailable in Ireland at that time and there where very limited medical resources, where the Doctors behaving ethically.

But was there contraception available? Something is not right it would mean a huge proportion of woman from 50 plus would have had a symphysiotomy. Nowadays how common is a C section.
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# 9 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 13:29
 
 
I saw this on prime Time but it was so horrific I had to turn it off. It's astonishing how cruel and evil some members of the medical profession in this country was prepared to be in the past. But then they told themselves that their evil was in fact godliness.
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# 10 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 14:22
 
 
@jonh
20-25% of births in Ireland today are c sections. This is a high rate by international standards, and fear of litigation is thought to be a significant factor. Ireland also has one of the lowest rates of perinatal mother and infant mortality in the world.

Dr.'s are required to at least "do no harm " It was not ethical to cripple women in order to advance, promote or facilitate a particular moral belief. No more than the practice of female circumcission is ethical, decissions were made and practices were based on social and moral beliefs not on available best practice or the needs of the individual patient.

Reply
 
# 11 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 14:39
 
 
Someone said :
@jonh
20-25% of births in Ireland today are c sections. This is a high rate by international standards, and fear of litigation is thought to be a significant factor. Ireland also has one of the lowest rates of perinatal mother and infant mortality in the world.

Dr.'s are required to at least "do no harm " It was not ethical to cripple women in order to advance, promote or facilitate a particular moral belief. No more than the practice of female circumcission is ethical, decissions were made and practices were based on social and moral beliefs not on available best practice or the needs of the individual patient.

Absolutely it would never be ethical to do harm, or was this a case of them doing less harm in a state that did not allow contraception.

So the figures of woman getting a C section today is from 20 to 25% and that is high by international standards. So you could assume before the 80s 10 to 15% needed a C section but where given a symphysiotomy. This has a potential to leave Army deafness and the blood bank scandals compensation looking like small change.
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# 12 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 14:53
 
 
Not all Dr's opted for symphysiotomy, some allowed delayed delivery, resulting in death or disability of the infant. Family planning was available at the time, many women had sterilisation ops carried out at the same time as c sections, just not recorded as such because it was contrary to the ethos of the catholic run hospitals. These ops were discussed and agreed between mother and understanding Dr.s in advance.
A conversation with Dr's and midwives practicing in that era can be very enlightening as to just how hard it was to practice freely here at that time.
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# 13 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 15:05
 
 
Someone said :
Not all Dr's opted for symphysiotomy, some allowed delayed delivery, resulting in death or disability of the infant. Family planning was available at the time, many women had sterilisation ops carried out at the same time as c sections, just not recorded as such because it was contrary to the ethos of the catholic run hospitals. These ops were discussed and agreed between mother and understanding Dr.s in advance.
A conversation with Dr's and midwives practicing in that era can be very enlightening as to just how hard it was to practice freely here at that time.

Holy shit it's like reading Victorian medical horror stories I'm flabbergasted.
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# 14 : Friday 19-2-2010 @ 15:44
 
 
This was a disgusting, unnecessary and barbaric medical practice that ruined the lives of thousands of Irish women - all because some doctors thought they had total control over their patients' lives.

Yet another disgraceful and shameful episode in the unholy alliance of Church and State in the country.

And it was practiced here right up until 1983!! Any doctors who practiced this savagery who are still alive should face criminal prosecution.
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# 15 : Tuesday 23-2-2010 @ 23:37
 
 


Does anyone know of any support groups, contact numbers or someone who could give me some more information on this, please?
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