Symphysiotomy survivors appeal for protection of records

Group opposes default destruction of records

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Eilin O'Moore and her mother Mairin O'Moore from the Survivors of Symphysiotomy group with a petition at Leinster House in Dublin in 2013. Picture by: Niall Carson / PA Archive/Press Association Images

Updated 11.10

The Department of Health says data relating to survivors of symphysiotomy will be posted back to them free of charge, if they request it.

The records of 700 survivors, detailing the medical procedure they were subjected to, are currently available for collection.

But there are plans to shred all unclaimed documents after this Sunday the 20th of March.

The barbaric practice of symphysiotomy involved the breaking of the pelvis bone, to allow natural childbirth, in preference to a Caesarean section.

Rita McCann endured the operation in 1957 - she wants records kept to prove what women like her went through:

She remembers the brutal procedure: "I did feel the incision, but then they sawed me in half basically.

The pain, the suffering, the incontinence handicapped me. If my hip got bad, there wasn't a whole lot I could do with it. Take painkillers and hope for the best - that is about it."

Marie O'Connor, Chairperson of Survivors of Symphysiotomy, explains why these records must be kept:

"For any future inquiry into symphysiotomy, which has been accepted as involuntary medical experimentation involving torture by the UN Human Rights Committee.

They are of historical importance, and even medical importance - they represent a contribution to knowledge as well as being evidence of a dark chapter in women's history."

The survivors group wants the records to be returned to affected women by post, and they want the records to be archived.

The Department of Health now says it will return any requested records.