Mothers of stolen babies demand government action

Mothers, family members of babies stolen at birth protest in front of Spanish Attorney General's office. Photo: EFE / El Diario
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Family members of babies taken from their mothers at birth in Spanish hospitals both during and after the Franco dictatorship protested Monday in front of Spain’s Attorney General’s office demanding prosecutors take action to punish those responsible and to open archives so that the missing children can be found.

Associations representing the biological mothers and family others of the stolen babies have been fighting for nine years to gain information on the whereabouts of the babies, who were systematically taken at birth from their mothers in hospital by Catholic nuns and doctors because the mothers were deemed unfit to raise the children.


During the staunchly Catholic era of the Franco dictatorship from 1939 until Franco’s death in 1975, mothers of newborns were sometimes deemed by hospital staff unfit to raise the babies because they were unmarried, came from poor and working-class families, were political activists or came from families that were opposed to the Franco regime.

Even after the dictator’s death, however, the widespread practice continued at some hospitals with cases of healthy babies being taken from the mothers by hospital staff and then told the infants had died occurring as late as 1993.

► News Sources: Europa Press, El Diario and RTVE …

Held on the steps of Spain’s Attorney General’s office, Monday’s protest coincided with the ninth anniversary of the first case filed in Spanish courts over the stolen babies in 2011. Since then, more than 4,000 cases have been filed in courts throughout Spain.

The protesters paid tribute to Adelina Ibáñez, a 73-year-old mother and activist who died eight days earlier without ever finding out the whereabouts of her child, taken from her arms in 1975 from the Santa Cristina maternity clinic in Madrid.

Ibáñez was the defendant in the second lawsuit to be filed to trace what happened to a stolen baby, with gynecologist Joaquín Botija accused of the abduction in a trial that was scheduled to begin in 2018. The start of the trial has been postponed three times due to the alleged ill health of Botija and now that Adelina Ibáñez has died, the case may never come to trial.

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