Uncountedinfants change hands illegallyin this country each year in a widespread but elusive baby-selling racket that state laws are incapable of [WORD ILLEGIBLE] witnesses told a congressional panel yesterday.
Doctors, lawyers and other baby [WORDS ILLEGIBLE] frequently link childless couples with young, frightened and [WORD ILLEGIBLE] single pregnant women, and profithandsomely from the transactions according to testimony before House Criminal Justice Subcommittee.
Unborn children are sold for up to [WORD ILLEGIBLE] each in the illegal traffic, [WORD ILLEGIBLE] crosses state and international [WORD ILLEGIBLE] witnesses said.
[WORD ILLEGIBLE] a pirate adoption which has been perverted by a black-market sale the child is no more than a chattel, something to be bought and sold," said Joseph V.Morello, assistant district attorney for Manhattan.
Prosecutors, social services officials and a Chicago newspaper reporter who investigated the practice appeared before the committee to urge passage of the bill that would outlaw it and add federal resources to deterence efforts.
Introduced by Rep. Henry J.Hyde (R-III), the measure calls for a $10,000 maximum fine or up to five years in prison for conviction of arranging an adoption for profit.
Witnesses said the baby-selling scheme flourished because of a severe shortage of "adoptable" children, who Morello defined as "white and apparently healthy" babies. They attributed the shortage to a growing acceptance of unwed motherhood, legalized abortions and the availabilty of contraceptives.
Aspiring parents, weary of the low legal process of adoption, turn to racketeers, who, in turn, provide pregnant women with the essentials, and little else, in exchange for the child to be born, according to the testimony.
"One of the slickest" operations, according to chicago Sun-Times reporter Pamela Zekman, is an international network of dummy enterprises created by a Chicago attorney to evade U.S. law on adoption.
"State agencies simply are incapable of conducting necessary investigations in other states, or even other countries," said Joseph C.Woodcock Jr., former Bergen County, N.J., prosecutor, who spoke in support of the bill.
Witness said the black market harms the natural mother because she is not exposed to alternatives other than placing her child for adoption. The adopting parents suffer the mystery of the child's background and parentage, including such dangers as inherited disease, they said, and the child is wrongly placed with persons whose qualifications have not been verified.
"We are not dealing with the sale of goods and services, but the sale of human life, and it is not only the child who suffers physically, emotionally and financially," said Judy Fink of Americans Citizens Concerned for Life, a family welfare and pro-life group.