Infanticide Act, 1949

Published in 20th Century Social Perspectives, 20th-century / Contemporary History, Features, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2011), Volume 19

There was no separate category of infanticide in southern Ireland until the passing of the Infanticide Act in 1949 and thus the murder of infants under the age of one year was until then a capital offence. Most single women who stood trial for the murder of their illegitimate infants at the Central Criminal Court prior to the passing of the Infanticide Act pleaded guilty to manslaughter or concealment of birth; such pleas were generally accepted and up to 1949 most unmarried defendants were convicted of manslaughter or concealment of birth rather than murder.

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