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The Church’s Underground Baby Trade


If you thought religious figures were all moral and decent… we have to talk. What people in Spain have known for just a few years is that nuns and doctors had been working together to commit unbelievable crimes. Imagine a women who successfully gives birth while being put under pain-killing anesthesia. After lucidly waking up from the anesthesia, she is informed that she had a miscarriage. Thousands of vulnerable mothers would never have suspected any sinister conspiracy; but that’s exactly the case. Nuns, nurses and doctors worked together to steal babies in order to sell them for profit. After all, there’s good money in the underground baby trade.

Global Post reported on this problem last year with this salient anecdote:

“Where is my baby?” Luisa Torres wondered after waking up from general anesthesia on March 31, 1982.

“Your baby is dead,” Sister Maria Gómez Valbuena told her as she lay in bed at the Santa Cristina Maternity Hospital in Madrid. “You gave birth to nothing,” the nun said.

It was a lie, with consequences that would span almost three decades.

Torres alleges that her daughter was stolen at birth by a mafia of nuns, doctors and other officials who sold children for profit.

But the real issue is that we’re not talking about an isolated event. We’re talking about a huge network of deceit, profits, and broken hearts.

Thousands of Spanish mothers recount similar stories. Enrique Vila, a Barcelona lawyer who specializes in adoptions, estimates there might be as many as 300,000 cases, about 15 percent of total adoptions that took place in Spain between 1960 and 1989.

Since GlobalPost first wrote about the spate of stolen babies last year, the number of cases being handled by Spanish prosecutors has jumped from 900 to 1,500.

A trickle of complaints began decades ago, but turned into a flood two years ago. But the nun, now in her 80s and known as Sister Maria, is the first to be indicted in the scandal since complaints began to pour in two years ago.

In 2011, the Guardian mentioned this:

Doctors, nurses, nuns and priests are all suspected of lying to mothers who were told their children had died during, or straight after, birth. Journalists investigating a clinic in Madrid at the centre of the allegations found a baby’s corpse in a fridge, leading to suggestions that bodies were kept to show parents to prove their own child had died. Campaigners believe thousands of cases of stolen babies will eventually come to light.

“There are cases that are accompanied by proof in the form of DNA tests and others that are simply mothers who suspect that their babies were stolen,” said lawyer Enrique Vila, who represents the National Association of Irregular Adoptions. “We think it was an organised mafia.”

In an article published a week ago, France 24 explains how this system began with Fransisco Franco, the dictator of Spain who ruled from 1936, when the Spanish Civil War broke out, until his death in 1975.

Under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, the newborns of some left-wing opponents of the regime or unmarried couples were removed from their mothers and adopted. Sometimes, mothers were told the lie that their babies had died after birth.

The guiding principle was that the child would be better off raised by an affluent, conservative and devout Roman Catholic family.

The system outlived Franco’s death in 1975 and carried on at least into the 1980s as an illegal baby trafficking network.

It’s likely that in 2013, priests and nuns are no longer working together with doctors and nurses to commit these heinous crimes; but it’s hard to know, let alone prove. What we do know is that many women are still searching for their stolen children, and the authorities in Spain are providing no help at all. Independent groups are basically the only ones who are trying to reunite children with their parents.

According to Soledad Luque, who works for one such group that tries to reunite families, “there are about a dozen” families in Spain that have been successfully reunited. As for the hundreds or thousands of others, it’s just a matter of time, hope, and luck. Most adopted children don’t even know they’re adopted, so the search for their real family is pretty much only done by the mothers. But many mothers whose babies were stolen don’t know it either.

This is why the crime is so terrible. These Christians and corrupt medical staff took advantage of mothers in the most vulnerable time of their lives.

You might now be protesting with “but this is totally un-Christian” or “this only happened in Spain.” But it didn’t only happen in Spain. So maybe this isn’t so un-Christian after all. Jezebel reports:

According to CBS, medical professionals and social workers at religious charities in countries like Spain, Canada, Australia, Ireland, and the US would subject women who found themselves pregnant sans church-sanctioned fucking to a series of sadistic, deliberately traumatic experiences. Women were routinely shipped to homes for unwed mothers, where they were subjected to unnecessarily painful procedures, denied contact with their families, and told that they had no choice but to give up their baby for adoption. In some cases, women were told that their babies had died and were sent home childless.

The practice of “forced adoptions” was depressingly routine — according to some estimates, between the 1940’s and the late 1980’s, over a million and a half American women were punished for their pregnancies by entire Church-sanctioned teams of people who I’d like to be able to describe as “well-intentioned,” but who actually sound kind of evil. One former unwed mother told CBS that a doctor grabbed her foot during labor and told her that he hoped she learned her lesson. Another woman says she was drugged up during labor and tricked into signing her baby away when she wasn’t lucid enough to understand what she was signing. A third reported that social workers spent days trying to coerce her to give her baby up for adoption. Many women say they weren’t allowed to touch, see, or find out the sex of their newborns.

It’s exactly the sort of merciful “love thy neighbor as thyself” sort of attitude that Jesus Christ would fully endorse.

[. . .] The reality is that the same attitudes that led to forced adoption horror stories are alive and well today. They’re alive in so-called “crisis pregnancy centers,” where women considering abortions are occasionally told that they’re going to hell unless they give birth, but encouraged to sign their babies away to good Christian couples if they do choose to carry their pregnancies to term.

[. . .] It looks like religious organizations are going to have to atone for their transgressions in Canada, where a law firm has just announced that it’s filing a lawsuit against the Catholic Church of Quebec, alleging that the organization’s practice of coercing or forcing women to give up their babies for adoption was tantamount to kidnapping. Australia’s Parliament has just concluded an 18-month investigation into “forced adoption” practices. Lawmakers there expect legal action from mothers who were forced to give their children up.

Indeed, new lawsuits are being filed in Quebec, and elsewhere in Canada as well. The Montreal Gazette reports:

[In March 2012], the National Post launched a series of articles chronicling the experiences of unwed mothers that suggested a systemic pattern of coercion existed to prod [women] to give up their children. Valerie Andrews, who was forced to give up her child as a teenager, studied Statistics Canada data on illegitimate births from 1945 to 1973 and estimates 350,000 unmarried Canadian mothers were persuaded or forced into adoption. Several mothers are pushing for a federal government inquiry into Canada’s adoption practices, the Post reported.

And this excerpt from Wikipedia mentions an apology from Australia:

On 19 October 2010, Western Australia became the first state in Australia to apologise for forced adoption policies of babies born to unwed white mothers. “I now apologise to the mothers, their children and families who were adversely affected by these adoption practices,” Colin Barnett said.

Colin Barnett is the current Premier of Western Australia; he also said “The stories that have been told here are literally reflective of thousands of young women who didn’t have the ability to make a decision.” Apparently “Apology Alliance founder Christine Cole had been campaigning for national and state apologies since 1994.” That means someone knew about what was going on for a long time; and it took 16 years to first publicly admit fault. Many other places in Australia apologized since then; and on behalf of the Federal Parliament, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard even issued a formal apology in March this year.

So is this “un-Christian”? Yeah, probably… but when you see it happen in so many countries with so many women, it’s hard to argue that this is an isolated event and declare “just a few bad apples.” And I think the Church has run out of bad apple excuses with the widespread decades-long cover-ups of child sex abuse from priests.

So we’re talking about possibly hundreds of thousands of cases of selling women’s babies. Or if you pool together all of the cases in each country, you might need to add another zero to that figure. And of course, since the babies are given to other families, there will be no demographic records corroborating claims of maternal victims. So if a woman makes this claim, I guess taking her word for it is just a matter of faith. But evidently not much good comes from faith. So it looks like most of the victims will just have to live the rest of their lives knowing that their own flesh and blood was stolen from them.

But hey… we can all be a little bit Christian and just, you know, forgive. Right?

To Err Is Human To Forgive Is Divine satirical comic

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