Tuesday, May 18, 2010


I was out the other night with a dear friend and talk came around to a horrific procedure called a symphysiotomy that was performed on my mother in 1956. My DF had passed on my information in this blogpost (written in 2007) to a very well known author who has now published it in a book on Irish people's history in the past 100 years.

I read the post again when I got home and found myself still deeply affected. I truly believe I'm beyond anger and hate. Just totally sad at what happened to my mother and all the countless women of her era who suffered so much at the hands of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Here is that post again.


  1. The utter barbarisms practised in the name of religion never cease to amaze me. What your mother had to endure is horrifying. And other grotesque rituals like female genital mutilation are still widespread.

  2. well I learned something new today. not always a good thing, I never heard of this procedure.

  3. I sometimes like to dream that there is a god, and she's female, and I'm a fly on the wall at the last judgement of Irish catholic priests ...

  4. I'd never heard of that horrific procedure, WWW. Another black mark against the RC church - the black marks were piled high as Everest already ! There's no end to the inhumanity of this evil institution it seems. They'll get theirs...one day....please let it be soon!

    Congratulations though, on having your beutifully written piece included in a book, which I hope will sell well - to inform many more people of such horrors.

  5. Surely it is not performed for religious reasons though...? What would it have to do with the catholic church?

    I understood it was an emergency procedure performed when the baby wouldn't come out naturally but was too far down the birth canal for a C-section. But yes, I can imagine it's pretty horrific, particularly if anaesthetic is unavailable.

    That said, I do thank my lucky stars to live in an age of decent contraception and also that I've never had the remotest desire to pro-create.

  6. This is horrific and not in anyway justifiable. Ignorant, stupid men lead that church and subserviant women follow their lead. It's outrageous. I feel so awfully sorry for your poor mother. I bet she was a bit of a rebel. She would have done well in this day and age.

  7. Laura:
    The Catholic Church in Ireland in collusion with the Irish College of Obs and Gyns determined that a C-Section might impede the woman's ability to procreate further and the whole object of the game was to keep women bearing children for the large wallet of Mother Church.
    Smash the bones but protect the uterus.

  8. Somehow my comment got lost yesterday. I was lost for words then, today I am not much better because I am angry. Angry for your mother and for mine. My mother had no bones broken, but her spirit certainly was.

  9. Unspeakably awful. So many dreadful things are done to women in the name of religion.

  10. I'm writing on behalf of all those women who were abused in childbirth by Catholic fundamentalist
    doctors. About their broken pelvises and their shattered lives...

    Survivors of symphysiotomy are casualties of an 18th c. birth operation that unhinges the pelvis and splits the pubic joint. Ireland is the only country in the Western world to have practised these dangerous and discredited operations in the 20th century.

    For four decades, doctors severed women's pelvises in preference to doing a Caesarean section. They were allergic to birth control and
    disliked Caesarean, seeing it as a brake on family size.

    But in doing a symphysiotomy, they were condemning women to a lifetime of disability, chronic pain, and incontinence, Sexual lives were
    wrecked, and family relationships damaged. Babies were injured, some
    fatally. Around 150 women in their 60s, 70s and 80s survive today.

    We have been pressing for an inquiry for 10 years, to no avail, so we could really do with some help to raise our game.


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