European Journal of Law Reform

Article

Legal Motherhood and Parental Responsibility

A Comparative Study on the Tensions between Scientific Knowledge, Social Reality and Personal Identity

Keywords motherhood, child’s right to identity, baby-box, secret birth, confidential birth
Authors Prof. dr. Christine Budzikiewicz en Dr. Machteld Vonk
Author's information

242124 Prof. dr. Christine Budzikiewicz
Prof. dr. Christine Budzikiewicz is professor of law at the Institute of Comparative Law of Marburg University in Germany, <www.uni-marburg.de/fb01/lehrstuehle/zivilrecht/budzikiewicz>.

242126 Dr. Machteld Vonk
Dr. Machteld Vonk is assistant professor of child and family law at the Child Law Department of Leiden University Law School in The Netherlands, <http://law.leiden.edu/organisation/private-law/child-law/staff/mjvonk.html>.
  • Abstract

      For the past 15 to 20 years there has been intense discussion in many European countries how mothers in a crisis situation can be prevented from abandoning or even killing their new born babies. Baby-boxes have been installed in a number of countries and/or possibilities for anonymous birth have been discussed or introduced. The Committee on the Rights of the Child expressed concern over these developments and stated that both developments infringe on the child’s right to know its origins. Both Germany and the Netherlands have taken steps to protect new mothers and their babies in crisis situations by introducing a form of secrecy surrounding the mother’s identity. In Germany this has taken the form of a recently introduced law that keeps the birth and the identity of the mother confidential, in the Netherlands this has taken the form of a protocol drawn up by professionals which aims to keep the birth and the mother’s identity secret. This article will compare and critically discuss these developments in Germany and the Netherlands.

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