Ever the bastion of mercy and forgiveness for wayward women, Catholic church-run charities around the world stand accused of forcing unwed mothers to give up their babies for adoption — or lying and telling them their babies had died and then giving the babies away, anyway. Depressingly, Operation Hand The Baby Over, You Hellbound Adultress wasn't a relic of Torquemada-era moralizing; the most recent cases of forced or coerced adoption are said to have occurred in the late 1980's. And punitive tactics used on pregnant women then sound oddly like language used in laws designed to be abortion deterrents today.
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.
While it's easy to sit back and congratulate ourselves for having moved on from the archaic attitudes of that old-timey era of sepia toned cruelty, 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's alive and well in the minds of lawmakers sponsoring bills requiring pregnant women to undergo medically unnecessary vaginal probing and excessive waiting periods before abortions, and in the anti-Planned Parenthood witch hunt being led by pitchfork-toting lawmakers claiming that by making health care less affordable and accessible to women, they're somehow "protecting life." This relishing of doling out medical discipline to women who don't behave properly is a bastion of the segment of the populace that sincerely believes that women should be back in the kitchen, with child and pot roast, minding their manners and their husbands.
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.
The Catholic Church: because God can't be trusted to punish women enough.
Adopted or abducted? [CBS]