In Spain, A Criminal Ring Of Nuns And Doctors Stole Hundreds Of Thousands Of Babies

Published April 21, 2016
Updated February 10, 2017

How Did This Form Of Human Trafficking Work?

Stolen Babies Manifestacion Stolen

Protestors march in the streets of San Sebastián, demanding justice for the stolen babies. Source: Flickr

As with any hospital, some women did not want to keep their newborns, and offered them up for adoption. Others were convinced by clinic staff to give them up for adoption. The women did not receive any financial support in exchange for giving up their newborns, and in many cases nurses and doctors forged paperwork to make it appear as if the adopting parents were the biological ones.

Worse still, some women gave birth wanting to keep their child and, after the fact, were falsely told that their children had died. Mothers were denied access to their deceased child’s body, with some saying they were shown a newborn corpse which nurses and doctors claimed belonged to them. The clinic, these mothers were often told, would take care of the burial. This trafficking continued all the way up until the ’90s, the BBC wrote.

Since police inquiries began in 2011, a handful of former clinic workers have come forward as eyewitnesses. They confirmed that the mothers would be given a certain dose of anesthesia so they would be in a state of confusion during the birth and could therefore be more easily tricked into believing the baby had died. Graves supposedly containing the remains of these infants have been opened since investigations began, and have revealed only the bones of adults or animals — sometimes just a handful of stones.

Although these illegal practices happened to mothers all over Spain, some names came up in cases more than others — namely a doctor named Eduardo Vela and a nun, Sister María Gomez, who worked within Madrid’s San Román maternity ward.

Teresa Cantero
Teresa is a freelance journalist and former Fulbright scholar now based in Spain. She has an M.S. in Global Affairs from New York University and a Bachelors in Journalism from the Universidad de Navarra.
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