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Thu Oct 23, 2014, 10:47 AM

The terrible toll of mixing religion and medicine in Ireland

I posted a thread to Women’s Rights & Issues group concerning a newly published article about a horrific birthing practice in Ireland and the victims who are just now coming forward.
See: http://www.democraticunderground.com/11384995

At the time I posted that thread I was completely unaware of the practice of symphysiotomy, a barbaric medical procedure outlawed many years ago by most countries but which continued in Ireland until about 1980, thanks to the Catholic Church’s insistence that women bear as many children as possible.

Since I posted that thread I have been reading up on the subject. Be warned – most of the stories you will read at these links are ghastly. If this doesn’t enrage you, if this doesn’t make you demand an end to the meddling of religion in medicine, if this doesn’t shame Ireland into granting full reproductive rights for women even in the face of fierce religious opposition, nothing will.

The following articles appear in The Irish Times…
WARNING -- GRAPHIC.
http://www.thejournal.ie/a-history-of-symphysiotomy-the-impact-of-catholic-ethics-on-irish-medicine-685296-Nov2012/
http://www.thejournal.ie/symphysiotomy-ward-1587477-Jul2014/
http://www.thejournal.ie/compensation-scheme-symphysiotomy-1548064-Jul2014/
http://www.thejournal.ie/readme/symphysiotomy-documentary-673097-Nov2012/
http://www.thejournal.ie/symphysiotomy-un-1355549-Mar2014/
http://www.thejournal.ie/symphysiotomy-survivors-petition-messages-858418-Apr2013/

Here’s one small excerpt and I deliberately chose one that was not too gruesome for the unprepared reader:
http://www.thejournal.ie/symphysiotomy-uncat-1356352-Jul2014/
Hannah
De Valera said, ‘I’d like it [the baby] to come on naturally.’ I was almost a week at home, I was small, and the baby was getting bigger and bigger. I went in again – they induced me. ‘I normally do a Caesarean section,’ De Valera said, ‘but because you are such a good a Catholic, I’ll do a symphysiotomy, you’re a Catholic family, you’d be expected to have at least ten – if you have a Caesarean, you can only have three. And, as a Catholic, you need to go through the pains of childbirth – if you had a Caesarean, you wouldn’t. The baby is as big as yourself – why do small women marry big men? I’ll have to stretch your hips and straighten your pelvis. I’d no idea what a symphysiotomy was.’

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Reply The terrible toll of mixing religion and medicine in Ireland (Original post)
theHandpuppet Oct 2014 OP
trotsky Oct 2014 #1
skepticscott Oct 2014 #2
trotsky Oct 2014 #4
madmom Oct 2014 #3
rug Oct 2014 #5
theHandpuppet Oct 2014 #6
rug Oct 2014 #7

Response to theHandpuppet (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 11:01 AM

1. "as a Catholic, you need to go through the pains of childbirth"

That is so repulsive. Ugh, all those poor women. The RCC in particular has always seemed to have this sick obsession with suffering.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #1)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 11:30 AM

2. Yes, including the sick belief

 

that people should have no dignified alternative to dying a long, slow, agonizing death, because, well, God's Plan blahblahblah.

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Response to skepticscott (Reply #2)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 12:23 PM

4. Relevant:

Mother Teresa and the fatal love of suffering

The suggestion is many people suffered and died that didn’t need to. To Mother Teresa, the fact that they were suffering was their highest achievement and this should not be interfered with. The article acknowledges the good that Mother Teresa did. But it pulls no punches in exposing how bad belief can manifest itself in bad behavior.

My suggestion is that this is not unusual, but a dominant theme in Christianity and the church. I have experienced it and even lived by it. I’ve endured things without attempting to change it because it was my duty to suffer long. Rather than take responsibility for my life and become the master of my own destiny, I surrendered my life out of my hands and willingly tolerated pain longer than necessary. If we believe our affliction comes from God and is like Christ, who are we to mess with it?

The inverse is also true: those who unconsciously or consciously embrace this theology invite, allow and encourage others to suffer, even taking it upon themselves to inflict it or not remove it when they have the power to do so.

It’s one thing to suffer well, it’s another thing to invite it and then keep it long after it wants to go. It’s one thing to sit with others in their suffering, it’s another thing to let it continue when you have the power to change things. Christianity can tend to lean in this unhealthy direction.

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Response to theHandpuppet (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 12:17 PM

3. This truly makes me wonder...

For my first child I had a difficult labor. I started labor on Sunday afternoon, was sent home because it was "just mild". Monday evening went back with strong contractions. This time they kept me.

Tuesday at noon I still had not given birth and having strong contractions.
They decided to take an xray to see what was wrong.
The nurse told me "that what ever it was, it had a lot of dark curly hair."

The xrays showed a large baby. It still wasn't until after 10:00 P.M. Tuesday that the doc decided to do a c section, this after my husband and father decided to call in another doctor. He knew at noon on Tuesday how big the baby was and did nothing.

After everything was said and done, the nurse (who was an angle) told me if I would have had to have him naturally one or both of us would have died.

BTW.... he was 11 1/2 pounds and 24 inches long at birth. Head diameter was 19".

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Response to theHandpuppet (Original post)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 12:36 PM

5. Symphysiotomy. I never heard of it before.

 

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Response to rug (Reply #5)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 01:58 PM

6. I hadn't either

Most countries outlawed the practice long ago and I'm sure it's a chapter that the medical community would rather not revisit. It's only now that some of the survivors are coming forward that we're learning about it.

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Response to theHandpuppet (Reply #6)

Thu Oct 23, 2014, 04:48 PM

7. There are so many discredited practices, especially in women's health.

 

IIRC, c-sections were basically mandated if the first child was delivered that way. My mother's abdominal scar is still a vivid memory.

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