A mother subjected to agonising pelvis-widening surgery today called on Health Minister Mary Harney to spend a day in her pain-ridden body.

Kathleen Naughton said an immediate inquiry would be held into the horrific symphysiotomy procedure if the minister felt her distress for a day.

Ms Harney has refused to hold a review into the controversial operation which was performed on hundreds of pregnant women up to the early 1980s, supposedly to ease delivery of their babies.

Ms Naughton, 58, from Duleek, Co Meath, criticised her decision not to hold an investigation into the pelvis-severing practice, which went on for several decades.

"If she was in my body for one day we'd have the review the next day, that's the truth," she said.

"That day 33 years ago evil hit my body and that evil has not left me - my career, everything has diminished because of what happened to me.

"The state has neglected us. We're fighting for everything and they're putting all these blocks in front of us."

Campaign group Survivors of Symphysiotomy said the Government had ignored the plight of many mothers left with long-term health problems including incontinence, back pain and depression.

A Department of Health spokesman said the minister had decided a review would not be productive.

"The purpose of conducting a review of health policy or medical practice is primarily to examine past events so as to improve care for patients," he said.

"In the case of symphysiotomy the practice is now extremely rare in Ireland, having been superseded by caesarean section since the early 1980s."

The department said women experiencing problems associated with the procedure were receiving appropriate attention and care.

But Colm MacGeehin, solicitor to 111 mothers who underwent symphysiotomy, said Minister Harney had turned her back on the women and should resign.

"She has claimed that adequate medical, disability and other services are being provided for them.

"This is manifestly untrue: recent years have seen a complete rollback on their entitlements and benefits."

Mary Nugent, who had the procedure 35 years ago at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, said a review would help bring closure.

"An inquiry would mean that people would believe in all these women and what was done to them - it's not about money," she added.

"I have chronic back pains and I can't really walk or play with my grandchildren.

"I never questioned the doctors at the time.

"They were gods - or at least they thought they were."