29 Aug 2008

Conference marks 20 years since Cartwright report

1:27 pm on 29 August 2008

A conference in Auckland has heard harrowing details about the effects of unethical cervical cancer treatment in the city 20 years ago.

Auckland University is hosting the day-long conference, looking back at events at National Women's Hospital which involved monitoring but not treating early cervical cancer in many women.

Clare Matheson, one of the women who was part of what has become known as The Unfortunate Experiment, told the gathering about a man she knows who, at age 17, sat alone and watched his mother die as a result of the lack of treatment.

Ms Matheson said the experiment was a deliberately planned programme which was relentlessly pursued by the medical profession but totally without empathy for women.

Women's health campaigner Sandra Coney said women were badly scarred physically. The former freelance journalist says she doubts if the media today could break such a story.

Dame Sylvia Cartwright, the judge who led the landmark inquiry into the case, said it moved her greatly and changed her life.