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Symphysiotomy in Ireland: About SOS

Matilda Behan and her daughter, Bernadette, established Survivors of Symphysiotomy in 2002 with the goal of bringing justice to the women of Ireland who had unduly had the symphysiotomy procedure performed upon them and have suffered long-term issues as a result.

Survivors of Symphysiotomy-Ireland grew into a national membership group for survivors of the invasive and out-dated procedure and their families. Unfunded and completely independent from the government, the group campaigned for legal changes, even going as far as making a complaint to the United Nations to demand the attention that the survivors deserved from their own government.

Despite the tragedy of the operation being performed on about 1500 women from 1944 and over the next 40 years, a person or organisation is yet to be held accountable for their actions. Restitution was a long time coming, being delivered in the form of a government payment scheme which came across as more of a whitewash of the issue as opposed to actual relief for the survivors.

The dangerous procedure of symphysiotomy has been found to have been religiously-driven as opposed to the following of correct medical practice of the time, with the devout Catholics running Dublin’s National Maternity Hospital enforcing the barbaric, invasive, and out-dated procedure. Despite the existence and common practice of caesarean sections, the symphysiotomy was applied to remove the cap of family size that came with multiple caesarean sections. Now, women all over Ireland are suffering from the long-term side effects of having to endure the procedure which was often performed without the consent or prior knowledge of the surgeon’s victim.

Survivors of Symphysiotomy is here to bring justice to the aggrieved, and not settle for the issue to be swept under the rug by an inadequate payment scheme. Many women accepted the payment scheme as at least they can receive some form of compensation, but others have declined the scheme to maintain their right to pursue legal avenues for full restitution.

The group campaigns for truth and justice.

survivors of symphysiotomy