Mari Steed explains that these are not the same thing as the slave-labor of the infamous Magdalene laundries, although women might go from one to the other. (Here's a fact I did not know; the last Magdalene Laundry did not close until 1996.)
You had these industrial schools, the Magdalene laundries, the mother and baby homes, all with different remits, but the basic model was to contain and segregate anything that was deemed morally inferior by society, whether that's children, unwed mothers, the women in the Magdalenes, etc. They were all cross connecting at various points. Children were sent to laundries, women came out of laundries or went into laundries from mother and baby homes.And again, the children were dying at unprecdented rates, from
...ailments that any other child in any other situation would be treated for and probably survive with no problem. It raises questions. The nuns felt we were all inferior due to being born out of wedlock, but if the child did suffer from some congenital problem or was sickly and needed help, did they just make no effort to save that child and allow them to die? Starve them, put them on sugar water, and that was the end of it? We are seeing, as we pull death certificates, an overwhelming number of children showing up as dying from acute malnutrition. There's also heart failure, sepsis — many of them very treatable. Given decent medical care, they would have survived.Andrew Sullivan follows up,
So these homes were both labor and internment camps. And the inmates were deemed beneath any empathy or decency. What’s impressive about the thoroughness of this vision of theocon perfection is that it extended even to the children of such wicked women.
The sexual theology was so all-important no other values – not even protecting the innocent and vulnerable – could be allowed to dilute it....
This is a form of Christianity which treats children as objects to be raped, neglected or left to die. It is a reminder of how foul and dangerous the union of church and state can be, and of how utterly distortive sexual repression and delusion can be. Here’s what the Catholic church is when its sexual repression is its first and fundamental value: a church that essentially aborted its unwanted children – but only after brief wretched lives of abuse, neglect and sickness.