Permission? Consent? What do you mean?

Here’s a new one, via a comment by Marie-Thérèse. From the Irish Independent in August 2010:

A CLERICAL child abuse victim revealed the full horror yesterday of the ‘human guinea pig’ drug trials carried out in church-run children’s homes.

Hundreds of children are feared to have been subjected to the experimental trials while in the care of the Catholic Church.

Now the victims’ cases could be reopened, as calls for the Government to deal with the scandal intensifies.

Legal action is being planned against  GlaxoSmithKline and the Sacred Heart Order, which allowed the tests at the Bessborough Mother and Baby Home in Cork.

Campaigner and abuse survivor John Barrett, who was born at the home outside Cork city, was used as a ‘human guinea pig’ while in Lota industrial school, also in Cork.

You can explain about that, too, please, Vatican.

More than 25,000 youngsters spent time in Irish orphanages between 1960 and 1975, the period when the controversial one-in-four trials are believed to have taken place.

Kevin Cooney of the Adopted And Fostered Persons’ Association said: “These orphans were society’s most innocent and vulnerable people.

“The State participated in abusing the rights of children in their care. That is indefensible. There must be a full disclosure.”

Meanwhile Health Minister  Mary Harney has been called on to instruct her officials to make available all relevant information regarding the ongoing vaccine trials.

The call comes following Mari Steed, 50, breaking her silence on Friday, in the Irish Independent, into how she was subjected to a controversial vaccine trial as a baby without her mother’s consent.

She said she the trial were carried out on her between December 1960 and October 1961, when she was between nine and 18 months old.


  1. Pierce R. Butler says

    And some people say the Catholic Church has never made any contributions to medical science!

  2. says

    It is interesting to note that most of Europe started adopting an international standard for human medical experimentation in the mid 70s, which required a review of studies by ethical review boards, mandated informed consent and limited the power of non-parental legal guardians to enroll children into medical studies.

    This article was posted three years ago; I would be interested in learning where the investigation went. I suspect it was ended with a summary of, “No legal wrong-doing.”

  3. Hamilton Jacobi says

    After the Holocaust, most people in the western hemisphere must presumably have been aware at some level that it is not okay to designate Jewish people as subhuman and perform nonconsensual experiments on them. So I find it surprising that, between 1960 and 1975, the medical professionals at GlaxoSmithKline could think it is just fine to substitute “orphans” or “children of unwed mothers” in place of “Jewish people” and experiment away to their heart’s content.

    The participation of the Catholic church, on the other hand, is utterly unsurprising.

  4. cuervodecuero says

    I am cynical enough to expect the blamethrower to be brought out and “eeeeevil godless scientists” to be j’accused, preying upon the trust of the unworldly clergy and their wards.

  5. says

    Found another article that outlines a bit of the history. Sounds a lot like somebody just wanted to make this all go away.

    Sadly, they may have succeeded. I can’t seem to find any more recent articles on the matter.

  6. says

    What??? I can’t even?

    This morning, BBC radio says that GlaxoSmithKline is under investigation in China – but that’s for bribery which is a very different thing (assuming they were bribing to get sales, not bribing for permission to experiment on toddlers).

    All right, so people generally slide gradually into evil rather then waking up one morning and thinking “Hey, let’s do a Mengele with some Irish toddlers.” And presumably the assumption would be that the vaccines were probably safe, which is a major difference from Megele, but – but –

    The one thing that makes any sort of (nasty) sense is using orphans. Do that to my kid and I’d likely get a murder conviction.

  7. John Morales says

    LykeX, a quick search reveals a January 24, 2011 article in Irish Examiner.

    (Not very informative, though — as you note, it seems to have gone away)

  8. says

    Interesting to note that these Catholic institutions happily accept the money from the medical establishment, but not their conclusions about how morning-after pills work.

  9. says

    It’s terribly frightening reading about the vaccine trials. I know that a lot of survivors were overly concerned that they may have been tested on, as sugar lumps were given to them in their respective institutions. I have evidence in my medical documents of having only got the two-in-one first time around, because I’d already had pertussis. I think it may have been administered at a hospital. However, I do remember getting sugar lumps in Goldenbridge when I was much older, so they must have been the three-in-one booster? I can’t be certain.

    Justice Mary Laffoy was hoping to look into the vaccine trials, but her tenure at the commission to inquire into child abuse sadly was so short-lived. She was sorely missed by survivors of Reformatories and Industrial “Schools” . They had great confidence in her. JML’s investigative skills were so thorough, but she was not appreciated by the powers-that-be. Glossing over things, is all the government had ever wanted. The Laffoy Commission became the Ryan Commission to the chagrin of so many survivors.

    See: Ireland’s hidden scandal: child vaccine trials – It talks about the four-in-one vaccine trials that were tested on children in industrial “schools”. The company involved even says thanks for being allowed to carry out the experiments. It’s sickening to read.…ireland/irelands-hidden-scandal-child-vacc…‎..

    Mari Steed who was allegedly tested on in Ireland as a wee bairn before she was adopted to America, was taking a class action case some years ago. I must ask her the outcome of the case, as she’s a Twitter follower of mine.

  10. says

    Addendum: This issue of Vaccine Trials has been put to one side since the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, under the chairmanship of Ms Justice Mary Laffoy, who was prohibited from including it in its original terms of reference. My guess is that the government in power of yesteryear, and today, do not want to open up a can of worms.

  11. Jenora Feuer says

    @Hamilton Jacobi:

    Especially as the Nuremberg Code, which was one of the first serious international attempts to define medical ethics for human experimentation, was developed just after WWII (in 1947), thanks to exposure of exactly what the Nazis had been doing. Most nations at least pay lip service to it; many places have actually incorporated it into law. This led to the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki, which formalized a lot of it.

    The first point of the Nuremberg Code starts with:

    The voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential. This means that the person involved should have legal capacity to give consent; should be so situated as to be able to exercise free power of choice, without the intervention of any element of force, fraud, deceit, duress, over-reaching, or other ulterior form of constraint or coercion; and should have sufficient knowledge and comprehension of the elements of the subject matter involved as to enable him/her to make an understanding and enlightened decision.

  12. kevinalexander says

    I don’t see what the problem is. Everyone wins here. The drug company makes money, the church makes money and the kids get a big deposit in their suffering kisses from Jesus accounts.

  13. says

    Sorry, M-T – coming in late to the party on this one! In August 2011, after filing a DPA request with GSK, the HSE South (record-holders for Sacred Heart Adoption Society files), I was able to confirm that I was part of the active 4-in-one vaccine trials group (1960-61 at Bessboro). And despite that myself and two others were actively sought out and contacted by the law firm Shannon Solicitors, who seemed to firmly believe we had a case, solicitor Vincent Shannon later dumped us like a hot potato with little explanation given.

    Life and the Magdalene Laundries campaign intervened, so I set this issue aside for the nonce. But I am now ready to take it up again, most likely as one of just many human rights abuses under the umbrella of Ireland’s forced adoption schemes, including trafficking of children abroad.

    For the skeptics, I’m not out to skin GSK or science (being an ardent science fan). However, all of my experimental injections were given prior to October 1961, when, according to the Irish Dept. of Foreign Affairs, my mother signed formal relinquishment. We were both resident at Bessboro until December 1961. That means that legally I was still her child and no permission was ever sought from her for my participation in the trials. And no follow-up was ever done with my adoptive parents in the US to insure I suffered no ill effects. Bad science? You betcha. Watch this space…we’re not done yet.


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