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Irish nuns may face lawsuit over human vaccine trials

Catholic World News - August 20, 2010

An Irish religious order that operated maternity homes faces the prospect of a lawsuit over human vaccine trials that took place on babies there in 1960 and 1961.

Mari Steed, born at one of the homes and subsequently adopted by an American couple, discovered information about the vaccine trials as she searched for information about her birth mother. Steed’s birth mother says that the experimental vaccine was administered to her daughter without her consent.

Steed and three others involved in the experiment are contemplating a lawsuit against the Sisters of the Sacred Heart and are preparing a class action lawsuit against the drug company GlaxoSmithKline.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Aug. 20, 2010 8:36 PM ET USA

    Wait a minute. The article doesn't disclose any injury suffered by Mari Steed and the birth mother may have given a blanket consent to the Sacred Heart sisters for care of her child. Wouldn't there be a statute of limitations on this in any case...

  • Posted by: stpetric - Aug. 20, 2010 7:33 PM ET USA

    Talk about piling on! After reading the linked article, it doesn't seem that Mari Steed suffered any ill effects; nor that these were experimental drugs; nor that she was traumatized by the trial. In fact she only discovered it, decades after the fact, by reviewing old records. The sole complaint is that there was no proper consent. The article doesn't say what the legal and ethical standards were at the time. This suit seems like trying to latch onto a church scandal with a contrived complaint.

  • Posted by: Don Vicente - Aug. 20, 2010 12:29 PM ET USA

    This was at approximately the same time that the infamous Tuskegee experiments were being carried out on adult African Americans here in the U.S. In Ireland, illegitimate babies; in the US, African American patients with a social disease: in both cases marginalized and voiceless groups of human beings, were simply used for the "good of the majority." The "good old days" weren't always so good...

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