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State Sanctioned Abuse of Children  

From the cradle to the grave
By John Murray - posted Tuesday, 14 August 2007

There is one group in society so powerless, that its voice has not been heard. The abuses its members experienced should make all of those arguing about rights, morality, power, and the separation of Church and State, in the debate on stem cell research, sit up and take notice.

Its members are the victims of the lack of church and state separation in past medical experimentation in this country. They are the children who lived in child welfare institutions and were used as real life “lab rats” in the pursuit of medical breakthroughs.

This little known history makes the debate about the rights of embryos appear farcical, tragic and hypocritical. For while great ideals about intents to do public good are being argued, with each side claiming the moral high ground, the protagonists in the debate are ignoring the fact that they have carried out dangerous tests on unsuspecting and helpless children.
Together, they engaged in experiments that were against the moral codes not just of our society, but against standards of behaviour codified in international law after the Nuremberg war crimes trials.
The public also has a right to know of the horrible things that were done to promote the greater good of our society; just as it has a responsibility to see that the victims are properly recognised, properly treated, and importantly, compensated for the harm done to them when it was decided to promote our best interests ahead of theirs.
An opportunity to make amends for the institutional abuse of these children has already passed. In the late 1990’s the nature of these experiments came to public attention through The Age newspaper.
Although The Age gave this issue extensive coverage, neither the Federal nor the Victorian government held an inquiry.

The first recorded experiment on orphans, involving smallpox inoculation, was carried out by Assistant Surgeon to the Colony John Savage in NSW in 1803.
The following experiments were conducted since the formulation of the international Crimes Against Humanity laws, and the Nuremberg Code, and invariably breached them.
A known list of the experimental agents run through the orphanages of Australia since the Nuremberg Trials include vaccines for diphtheria, whooping cough, herpes, polio, influenza, measles, rubella, quadruple antigen, and human pituitary hormones.
 It is also thought the testing of antipsychotic medications, anti-rejection medications (for use in organ transplants) and psychosurgical procedures were perfected in child welfare institutions before “going public”.

One of the experiments disclosed in 1997 was a 1950’s trial of a vaccine for the sexually transmitted disease herpes. Eighty-three babies aged six to eight months old had been infected with the disease when the experimental agent was found to be worthless.
Despite infecting so many babies the researchers dryly concluded, “the vaccination was of no benefit in preventing primary herpetic infection under the conditions of this study”.
Another experiment that came to light was a test on 350 infants up to three years of age. These children were injected with full adult doses of an experimental influenza vaccine, despite the researchers knowing that the vaccine was likely to have more toxic effects on the children than on adults.

At that time these experiments were finally revealed to the public: the church, the state, and the medical-research fraternity joined forces against their victims to deny that any wrongdoing had occurred.
This was despite a public call for a major inquiry by Australia’s foremost medical research body, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), itself involved in Orphanage experiments. In the Australian Medical Journal the NHMRC unambiguously declared that “these trials were not carried out in a moral vacuum”.
Despite the lessons of Nuremberg, International Law, informed by the atrocities of the Nazi’s medical research practices, seemingly had no moral or legal effect on researchers in Australia. Experiments continued to be carried out from the period after World War II up until the mid 1970s.

Perhaps it is an indication of the level of institutional child abuse in this country, that the churches, the state and the researchers could not imagine international law also extended to protect the interests of mere children in orphanages.

What is concerning however, is that even a quarter of a century after the last experiments were allegedly completed, and long after the negative effects of some of the vaccines were known, (such as Creutzfeldt Jacob Disease similar to mad cows from Human Pituitary Hormones, and cancer from Salk vaccine contaminated with the monkey virus SV-40), breaches of the Nuremberg Code still failed to illicit any response in the wider medical, government, and church circles of this country.
Speaking in the late 1990’s, Dr Norman Wettenhall - the only researcher personally involved in such experiments to make a public statement - said of his trials in the 1950’s, “it was not a mistake at the time, but only a mistake by today’s standards”.
He confirmed that he didn’t know who gave consent for babies to be used in his experiments:
“You went to a babies’ home, and the nursing staff or the matron or someone expected you, so I didn’t query any more than that.”

Dr Wethenhall injected about 100 babies in at least four institutions with an experimental whooping cough vaccine that later failed safety tests in mice.
The Commonwealth Serum Laboratory he worked for at the time of the experiments refused to comment, stating that as they had been recently privatised, they were no longer an organ of the state.

The Head of Clinical Science at the Institute of Child Research in Perth stated that the claims of unethical experiments on vulnerable children “were far-fetched”. The President of the Australian Medical Association said that researchers were only trying to develop vaccines in the community in the way they saw medically appropriate.

Dr Michael Woolridge, then Federal Minister for Health, while ruling out a Federal inquiry at least expressed concern, stating “It shouldn’t have happened then, it couldn’t happen now”.

Astoundingly, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute said that the orphanages and babies' homes had sought their help to prevent serious outbreaks of major diseases: “The intent was to improve the health and welfare of those who were most at risk - those living in close association in crowded environments such as schools and orphanages,” the Institute stated.

Even without the Nuremberg Code to inform the practice of research with experimental agents on human subjects, one has to seriously question the morality of unleashing experimental agents among children “most at risk”, who are “living in close association in crowded environments”.

With practices such as these taking place, in such crowded environments, with children who were mentally depressed, suffering from loss and abandonment, physically and institutionally abused, and usually half starved, historians should now have to re-evaluate the causes of the illnesses that killed tens of thousands of children housed in the orphanages of Australia.
Just how many were caused by the fact that researchers felt that child welfare institutions were appropriate and convenient places to carry out their experiments?
And what of the children who survived the experiments? Take for example the 83 babies who contracted herpes because the experimental vaccine “was of no benefit”.
The simple truth is we don’t know what happened to them, as there has been no follow-up. Nor has there been an apology, or restitution forthcoming for the physical and social injury of being infected with a highly stigmatising sexually transmitted disease.

What we can surmise however, from common and now well documented church practice in the orphanages, is that far from being told the truth about the origin of their disease.

The history of the institutional abuse of children in this country, while little studied, continues to develop. It is only in recent times that an understanding of the abuse of these children for medical purposes has come to light, previous study confining itself mainly to the financial and sexual exploitation of children in institutions.

We now have to ask ourselves what other abuses occurred, and by whom they were perpetrated, on institutionalised children who were unable to protect themselves. For example, the fact that only 65 of an expected 174 bodies of orphans were found at the Prince of Wales hospital when its graveyard was dug up for an expansion to the hospital needs to be reassessed.
One reason for the lack of bodies the archaeologists failed to recognise was possibly the theft (or more likely - the possibility of sale) of them for medical specimens in teaching hospitals.

Even 100 years after their deaths the experimentation did not stop. Even as they were being identified and reburied with considerable pomp and circumstance, in a public ceremony attended by the then NSW Minister for Health The Hon. Craig Knowles MP the teeth of 57 of the children had been quietly collected.
Researchers then conducted scientific analysis of the levels of strontium contained in them, to compare against the levels of strontium fallout following open air nuclear testing.
Given the likelihood that these children’s lost contemporaries are presently housed as specimens in universities and museums, it is to be hoped that their teeth were returned to them after the scientists had finished their tests!

But what of the morality arguments presently fascinating our politicians and church leaders as they vie for the supremacy of their ideals regarding medical experimentation on non thinking human life forms this time around?
Are not Cardinal Pell’s fears about the dangers of these experiments on embryonic stem cells justified, given that they are informed not just by his spiritual beliefs, but by the fact that the Catholic Church owns one of the largest biomedical research complexes in the southern hemisphere, as well as his own church’s involvement in illegal research on children?

Or can we believe in our elected leaders’ belief that the medical research fraternity will act with greater ethical and legal restraint than they have shown in the past?
I would suggest that neither have any morality, nor cause for satisfaction one way of the other. Until they join forces, not to quash an inquiry this time, but to allow a Royal Commission into experimental medical research on institutionalised children, they have no authority to speak on this matter.

We need an inquiry to expose our murky past, and to ensure that medical research on children is carried out ethically and legally in the future.
'Stolen' kids 'injected with leprosy'
Tuesday Apr 15 15:53 AEST

Some Aboriginal children who were taken from their parents and put into institutions were used to test medical treatments, a Senate inquiry has been told.

Greens senator Bob Brown said he was "shocked and alarmed" by the allegations, heard by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Committee's inquiry into a Stolen Generation Compensation Bill 2008.

On the first day of hearings in Darwin, Kathleen Mills from the Stolen Generations Alliance said the public did not know the full extent of what happened to some children.

And efforts to obtain records that support the claims, such as that children were injected with serums to gauge their reaction to the medication, had been hampered, she said.

"These are the things that have not been spoken about," Ms Mills told the inquiry.

"As well as being taken away, they were used ... there are a lot of things that Australia does not know about."

Outside the inquiry, Ms Mills said her uncle had been a medical orderly at the Kahlin Compound in Darwin.

She said he told her that children were used as "guinea pigs" for leprosy treatments.

"He said it made our people very, very ill ... the treatment almost killed them," she said.

"It was a common experience and a common practice ...

"People are very inhibited to speak about their experience and it is not a nice subject ... I don't want them to be shamed."

Senator Brown said it was important to get to the bottom of the claims, which he called "very, very serious".

"It may be right, it may not," he said.

"It needs investigation. If within the indigenous community there is a feeling that children may have been experimented upon for a treatment for leprosy or anything else, the air needs to be cleared."

Ms Mills said information to do with the testing would be in health department archives and she called on the government to assist "opening Pandora's box".

She also said it was important to work with indigenous groups to ascertain who is eligible for compensation.

"It has to happen ... but there's this reluctance to do it," she said.

"We don't have the necessary information ... it's probably tucked away in some archive but we don't have the resources to research, we don't have the people who are qualified."

Senator Brown said there was a national responsibility to help Aboriginal people to get to all the records, including those being held by church institutions.

"This is about their identity, this about their sense of being, their history," he said.

The compensation bill aims to pay money to victims of the stolen generations, including living descendants, out of a Stolen Generations Fund.

Ex gratia payments would be set at $20,000 as a common experience payment with an additional $3,000 for each year of institutionalisation.

Rodney Dillon, from the National Sorry Day Committee, said that while the government debated action more Aboriginal elders entitled to some form of compensation were dying.

"We are going to lose a lot of people between now and the next time this bill is put on the table," he said.

"Although it does not have all the things in it we would like, I think we should push ahead."

Zita Wallace, chairperson of the Stolen Generations Alliance, said it was time to act "with urgency".

"Because I know we are dying and all of us elders from the first generation we will be all gone ... maybe the government would wish that would happen, then they would not have to pay compensation."

İAAP 2008
Read Michael's Story Here  
"Adoptee castrated and sterilized as a 10 year old, all because he was of "short stature" Short Statured boys being castrated, then sterilized in an experiment, funded by the Federal Government, and the State of Victoria, the Doctors sought kudos and career advancement ahead of medical practise"
Other adoptees have passed away through this medical experimentation of an uncurable brain disease known as CJD

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Origins HARP Healing and Recovery Project for Forgotten Australians