Gender and Power: The Irish Hysterectomy Scandal
Nursing Ethics 2008 September; 15(5): 643-655
In April 2004 the Irish Government commissioned Judge Maureen Harding Clark to compile a report to ascertain the rate of caesarean hysterectomies at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, Republic of Ireland. The report came about as a result of complaints by midwives into questionable practices that were mainly (but not solely) attributed to one particular obstetrician. In this article we examine the findings of this Report through a feminist lens in order to explore what a feminist reading of the Report and the events that led to the inquiry will bring to light. We consider how sex and gender feature in the Lourdes case, draw attention to the deeply gendered asymmetries of power and privilege that existed between the men and women at the centre of this inquiry, and explore the impact such asymmetries had on this particular situation.
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