Girls pregnant due to rape put in Bessborough in 1980s

Underage girls, pregnant as a result of rape, ended up in Cork’s Bessborough Mother and Baby Home into the 1980s. The ages are revealed in maternity registers kept by the order which ran the home and released under Freedom of Information.

Girls pregnant due to rape put in Bessborough in 1980s

In 1968, a 12-year-old girl was transferred from Bessborough to St Finbarr’s Hospital in Cork, where her child was stillborn in January, as a result of “ante-partum haemorrhage”.

Maternity Record Book 40 lists a girl of 14 whose child was stillborn in 1982. The record simply states that the child “premature 33wks, gasped and died”.

In another case from 1963, a 13-year-old “private patient” gave birth to a stillborn boy. The cause of death was listed as: “Baby very poor at birth, cerebral haemorrhage”.

The Irish Examiner put a series of questions to the Sisters of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary on the subject of children in its care that were pregnant as a result of rape. These included whether or not the cases had been reported by the order to the gardaí and/or relevant authorities at the time.

It declined to answer any of the queries, stating it would only communicate directly with the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes on all such and related matters — and that it would “not be appropriate to enter into communication, other than with the commission at this time”.

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