Sir, – Few people in Ireland today would deny that girls and women condemned to the Magdalene laundries in the 1950s were subject to inhumane mistreatment. Yet, at the time, tacit and overt support for the Magdalene system as an “obvious” solution to dealing with pregnancy outside wedlock was widespread.
The prolonged operation of that system was made possible by an unquestioned adherence to the assumptions underpinning it.
Today in Ireland, there is a group of girls and young women who are being vilified, shamed and silenced by the State, healthcare authority and elements of media because they have voiced concern that their chronic illnesses may relate to having received the HPV vaccine.
Public discourse in Ireland (but notably not elsewhere) has reached a point where it is impossible to express any concern about the safety or efficacy of that vaccine without being dismissed as not merely irrational but essentially medieval in one’s worldview.
That kind of discourse not merely denies the lived experience of these girls but promotes unquestioned adherence to the cant that the prevailing wisdom is fixed, when even according to the manufacturers, there are as yet unknowns surrounding this vaccine. Dr Jacky Jones’s opinion piece (“HPV vaccine deniers would prefer a modern-day Magdalene laundry”, Health + Family, October 17th), in its invoking of a misled and unsubstantiated narrative around sexual shame, not only compounds the mental and emotional anguish of the girls involved, but undermines calls for a genuinely independent investigation of the HPV vaccine.
Such an investigation will doubtless eventually occur, but until it does, at least a modicum of respect and compassion is surely due to vulnerable young women who believe their lives have been so seriously damaged by the vaccine. – Yours, etc,