Chair of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors Paul Redmond has slammed a column which claims that abortion is the modern-day equivalent of a Mother and Baby home.
David Quinn, founder of the Iona Institute, contributed a column to The Irish Catholic which seemed to insinuate that those in favor of abortion were on par with those who supported Ireland's harrowing Mother and Baby homes as a widespread way to deal with "unwanted children".
The columnist wrote at length about high infant mortality rates at the home, and how the eventual decrease was a result of innovations in antibiotics and vaccinations, and an increase in adoption interest from the United States.
Quinn states in the United Kingdom, legal abortion has become a more prevalent occurrence in the last fifty years and adoption statistics have fallen. He seems to suggest that Ireland will follow suit - and infant mortality rates will creep back up until they are at an all-time high.
To surmise his opinion piece, Quinn states that referencing Mother and Baby homes to justify the pro-choice movement which supports free, safe, and legal abortions in present day Ireland as "an ironic" response.
He writes, "The mother and baby homes were a response to social attitudes in those days. Single parenthood was stigmatised and so were children born outside of marriage. Prior to the mother and baby homes, many unmarried mothers literally had nowhere to go. The sad fact is that every society in history had has a ‘problem’ of unwanted children, that is, children unwanted by the mother in some cases, or by the father, or by the mother’s parents, or by society in general. It remains the case. In only a very small number of instances today are babies placed for adoption. The general response to ‘unwanted’ children these days is, of course, abortion....It is very hard to see how this is an advance on what went before. In fact, in the context of the coming abortion referendum it seems deeply ironic that the fate of unmarried mothers and their babies in the past, is now being used to justify abortion, which eliminates the baby altogether, before it is even born. Perhaps one day an Irish person will feel compelled to write a book called The Abortion Machine."
Paul Jude Redmond, the author of "The Adoption Machine" and Chair of the Coalition of Mother and Baby Homes Survivors has released an Open Letter to Quinn.
The response can be read in its entirety below.
"I read David Quinn’s article in the Irish Catholic (29.3.2018) with great interest as he questions a potential ‘omission’ in my book The Adoption Machine: The Dark History of Ireland's Mother and Baby Homes and the Inside Story of How Tuam 800 became a Global Scandal and, also in an article I wrote for the Sunday Independent.
Mr. Quinn’s article was deeply disingenuous, ignored the main points of the book and instead focused on ‘proving’ that Mother and Baby Homes were not an Irish phenomenon. That particular point is confirmed by me, several times throughout the book, widely known, and is hardly a revelation. What was unique to Ireland however, was the sheer size and scale of the Mother and Baby Homes network here as well as their institutional nature and inhumanly high infant mortality rates. Indeed, from 1922, Ireland set the global Gold Standard for the gross mistreatment of single, pregnant women and girls aged 12 to 48 and illegitimate babies, as the vicious mortality rates clearly show.
Mr. Quinn also ignores the indisputable evidence that the Irish Catholic version of Mother and Baby Homes was uniquely penal as opposed to the generally small and homely versions in Britain and other countries around the English speaking world. At present, Ireland seems to have had the largest Mother and Baby Homes in the world by a considerable margin. No doubt Mr. Quinn has also searched for comparable infant mortality rates in other countries but he will not find them. The Irish Catholic model was also distinctive in that the cold-blooded mortality rates that characterise them are several times higher than other Mother and Baby Homes worldwide. St. Patrick’s, Sean Ross Abbey and Bessboro are already confirmed as three Irish M&B Homes where mortality rates ran up to 50% and higher in various years from 1925 to 1947 and, up to a proven high of 82% in Bessboro.
Mr. Quinn claims that the reason the mortality rates in the homes plummeted from 1945 to the early 1950s is not due to the several factors I highlighted in The Adoption Machine but, rather due to the increased use of antibiotics and vaccinations. I am fascinated by this assertion as I have never come across it during my many years of research into the subject. The main issue with Quinn’s assertions is his implied claim that the illegitimate babies were actually included in the widespread use of these miracle drugs. Considering that the Mother and Baby Homes never employed doctors or nurses at the time, it seems odd to say the least. However, I presume Quinn can provide the evidence for his new claim or he would not have made it.
Mr. Quinn further contradicts the Commission of Investigation’s public notice of 3.3.2018 that states: “Test trenches were dug revealing two large structures. One structure appears to be a large sewage containment system or septic tank that had been decommissioned and filled with rubble and debris and then covered with top soil. The second structure is a long structure which is divided into 20 chambers. The Commission has not yet determined what the purpose of this structure was but it appears to be related to the treatment/containment of sewage and/or waste water.”Quinn is suddenly claiming that “we now know this [that the babies and children are buried in a septic tank] is not the case”. I assume Mr. Quinn has met his legal obligations and handed his new evidence that the experts have got it wrong, over to the current Inquiry into Mother and Baby Homes.
Mr. Quinn further asserts that the money received from American couples who adopted the Irish babies was actually by the nuns on the babies still in their care, is also at odds with all known evidence. The nuns pocketed the cash as ‘donations’ to their orders and did not spend it on the babies and children in their care.
As a concerned survivor, I have already contacted the Inquiry’s solicitor and informed them of Mr. Quinn's numerous pieces of new evidence.
Mr. Quinn notes that the Catholic Church in Britain has apologised over adoption practices in the past but, fails to mention that the Catholic Church in Ireland has done no such thing despite requests from survivors for an acknowledgement and apology going back to 2012.
Quinn’s entire reason for writing this article seems to be part of his campaign for a ‘no’ vote in the forthcoming referendum to repeal the Eighth Amendment. Mr. Quinn clearly believes that hellhole, institutional, Catholic Mother and Baby Homes are a superior option to abortion.
I will not dignify his belief with a response except to note the pain he has caused to the survivor community by conflating our issues with a matter that is completely separate from us. There is no hierarchy of pain or morality.
If David Quinn would care to publicly debate his bizarre and unproven new claims, I will meet him anywhere and anytime. I look forward to asking him to cite his sources and produce his accredited evidence. If he cannot produce the proof that the babies are not buried in a septic tank and, that the living babies received vaccines and antibiotics from the late 1940s and, that ‘donations’ were spent on medicines for the babies, perhaps he might have the good grace and Christianity to apologise to the survivor community he has needlessly hurt..."