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No inquiry planned into reports of Irish infants used in medical research

Babies who were intended for adoption from Irish institutions including mother and baby homes were used for clinical trials without their mother’s permission, according to a Prime Time report.

Image: eyeliam via Creative Commons

Updated at 4.40pm

THE DEPARTMENT OF Health says there are no plans to hold an inquiry into allegations that the bodies of hundreds of babies born to unmarried women in Ireland’s mother and baby homes were used in medical experiments after they died.

Last night, RTÉ’s Prime Time ran a special programme uncovering how hundreds of children at Irish institutions were used for medical research and dissected by medical students without their mothers’ consent right up until the 1960s.

The research also allegedly included vaccine trials in contravention of medical guidelines on captive populations. According to the programme, children’s residential institutions and mother and baby homes provided infants who could be monitored closely.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health told TheJournal.ie today that Reilly and Fitzgerald “deeply regret any distress caused as a result of any out-dated practices which are no longer in place or acceptable”.

The department is currently working on proposals for new legislation, the Human Tissue Bill, which will “provide for a strong consent framework for the donation of bodies to anatomy schools and will reflect current practices” in relation to the donation of bodies to anatomy schools.

Utter contempt

The Adoption Rights Alliance says that questions must be asked over the failure of previous inquiries and audits to reveal the extent to which the bodies of children intended for adoption were used in medical research.

It has called on the Minister for Health James Reilly and the Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald to set up an inquiry into the claims.

The medical practices shown in the programme demonstrate an utter contempt for children born outside of marriage and for their mothers, it says. The organisation also urged Fitzgerald to introduce legislation which will provide adopted people with access to their medical records.

The Adoption Rights Alliance helpline can be reached on 086 2359127

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