03/18/2011 09:53 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Spain's Stolen Babies: A Nation Confronts Its Dark Past

It has been four decades since Pilar Maroto lost her newborn son, but tears still fill her eyes when she speaks of him. She perfectly remembers the moments after his birth in April 1972, when she heard his first cry and then, later, the sudden, devastating news that her little boy had died. On Tuesday, she stood outside Spain's Congress of Deputies and hoped that, finally, someone in power would take seriously her insistence that her baby didn't actually die on that day - instead, he was stolen by the hospital where she delivered him.

Rumors of widespread, organized efforts to steal newborns from their parents have circulated in Spain for decades. But it was only on March 15 when those who believe themselves to be victims of the crime had their first opportunity to tell their stories to the Spanish government. Their testimony, given in an attempt to persuade Spain's legislature to pass a law that would both help those who have had their babies taken from them and make it easier to prosecute perpetrators, is accompanied by legal cases that have, after years of effort, recently been admitted to the regional courts for investigation. Finally, it seems, Spain is ready to confront a horrifying aspect of its recent past.

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