Journal Article

LEGAL TRANSFER OF FRENCH TRADITIONS? GERMAN AND AUSTRIAN INITIATIVES TO INTRODUCE ANONYMOUS BIRTH

Barbara Willenbacher

in International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family

Volume 18, issue 3, pages 343-354
Published in print December 2004 | ISSN: 1360-9939
Published online December 2004 | e-ISSN: 1464-3707 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/lawfam/18.3.343
LEGAL TRANSFER OF FRENCH TRADITIONS? GERMAN AND AUSTRIAN INITIATIVES TO INTRODUCE ANONYMOUS BIRTH

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When anonymous birth, baby boxes or baby nests were proposed in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, those who defined the social problem in terms of panicking young mothers in distress pushed the legislatures to introduce legal anonymous birth. In Austria, they succeeded. Similar initiatives failed in Germany, but baby boxes or baby nests have been instituted nevertheless. In contrast to practices in France, anonymous birth contradicts the German legal tradition that focuses on biological descent as evidence in case of children born out of wedlock. Partisans of anonymous birth aim at preventing infanticide and child abandonment especially by mothers of minor age. However, socio-legal research reveals that the reasons for abandonment and infanticide are indistinct. The recent legal arrangements of the legitimate alternatives, abortion and adoption, are presumed to impose demands on rationality that young women, over-represented in neonaticide cases and, in France, in cases of non-recognition, cannot cope with. The ideological pro-life mix concerning anonymous birth is favoured by Protestant, Catholic, social and state welfare agencies whose purposes include ruling out the conflicting rights of the respective parties (adoptive children and biological parents) and procuring adoptable children.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Family Law ; Marriage and the Family

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