Bodily Harm: Symphysiotomy and Pubiotomy in Ireland 1944–92
By Marie O'Connor
2011. ISBN 978-1-904808-75-6.
Symphysiotomy and pubiotomy carry more risk than Caesarean section: the surgery unhinged the pelvis and often led to walking difficulties, bladder problems and chronic pain. One baby in ten died. Ireland was the only country in the Western world to practise these 18th century operations in the mid to late 20th century. The revival of the surgery in 1944 raises serious questions. Was it the norm for difficult births from the 1940s to the 1980s? If not, why was it done? Bodily Harm examines the exhumation of these covert operations, reveals the circumstances under which they were carried out, documents the lived experiences of mothers, considers the surgery from a legal perspective, analyses its implications for maternity care and presents survivors’ case for truth and justice.