Article

The Descent of Ireland’s ‘Fallen Women:’ The Relationship Between the Catholic Church, Irish Nationalism, and the Control of Women’s Reproduction through Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalen Laundries

Author: Madeleine LaPierre (University of Michigan)

  • The Descent of Ireland’s ‘Fallen Women:’    The Relationship Between the Catholic Church, Irish Nationalism, and the Control of Women’s Reproduction through Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalen Laundries

    Article

    The Descent of Ireland’s ‘Fallen Women:’ The Relationship Between the Catholic Church, Irish Nationalism, and the Control of Women’s Reproduction through Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalen Laundries

    Author:

Abstract

In recent decades, Ireland has grappled with its relationship with the Catholic Church, which has long exerted social, political, and moral authority over the young nation. Scandals of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse at the hands of clergy have surfaced, distorting the Church's legacy in Ireland. Mother and baby homes and Magdalen laundries are just two of the many institutions operated by Church officials where individuals endured severe abuse at the hands of religious orders. Mother and baby homes and Magdalen Laundries serve as a yet another historical manifestation of authorities' control of women's reproductive behavior. These two institutions penalized illegitimate births by incarcerating thousands of young women – some pregnant, some not – throughout the 20th century in Ireland. This paper analyzes how the historical framework under which these systems developed, as well as the relationship between the Church's control of women's reproductive behavior and national identity in post-Independence Ireland. 

Keywords: Ireland, Catholic Church, Catholocism, Women, Reproduction, Illegitimate Birth, Illegitimate pregnancy, theology

How to Cite:

LaPierre, M., (2024) “The Descent of Ireland’s ‘Fallen Women:’ The Relationship Between the Catholic Church, Irish Nationalism, and the Control of Women’s Reproduction through Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalen Laundries”, Iowa Historical Review 10(1). doi: https://doi.org/10.17077/2373-1842.31856

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Published on
21 Feb 2024
Peer Reviewed
License
CC BY 4.0