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Children Used As Guinea Pigs In Irish Home For Unwed Mothers

Ashley Yang |
June 10, 2014 | 11:05 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Mothers of the children tested may not have given informed consent. (National Library of Ireland, Wikimedia Commons)
Mothers of the children tested may not have given informed consent. (National Library of Ireland, Wikimedia Commons)
The origins of a mass grave of nearly 800 babies at an Irish home for unwed mothers, ominously named “The Home,” was discovered by local historian Catherine Corless earlier this month. Corless’s research initially named malnutrition, neglect, and untreated illnesses as the main causes of infant death at The Home, but the announcement of a full inquiry into such institutions by the Irish government revealed that 298 children were used as human subjects in vaccine trials by pharmaceutical companies. (In an article with the Irish Times, Corless disputes the veracity of recent headlines claiming that the corpses were “stuffed in a septic tank”). 

Irish radio station Newstalk claimed to be in possession of official reports from the Department of Health showing that 80 children in various Dublin care homes and orphanages became unwell after receiving an experimental bovine vaccine in the mid-70s. These 80 were among the 298 total children that were experimented on. 

Since 2009, Irish society has been wracked with wave after wave of evidence documenting institutional child abuse after the publication of the first official report into abuse at care homes, which were often run by monks and nuns. The Home where the mass grave was found was run by the Bon Secours sisters.  

It is uncertain whether consent obtained from the children’s parents was informed and credible. GlaxoSmithKline, who bought out the drug company that conducted these trials, has agreed to cooperate with any future investigations. 

Minister for Children Charlie Flanagan has announced a Commission of Inquiry into all Irish mother and baby homes, hoping that evidence regarding forced adoption and vaccine trials will be uncovered.

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