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Anonymous Birth

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Expanding the Terms of Debate

image of The International Journal of Children's Rights

Although the right to know one’s origins has increasingly gathered momentum, anonymous birth remains an insurmountable obstacle to access in identifying information concerning one’s biological parents, at least within the Italian legal context. The judgment of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) in the case of Godelli v Italy reiterated that the problematic issue does not lie in the woman’s right to remain anonymous per se, but rather in its irreversible nature. In addition to providing an analytical account of the main legislative and judicial milestones in the regulation of anonymous birth in Italy, the present paper wishes to shed light on two issues which has thus far been disregarded: firstly, all the arguments in favour of reversibility tend to be adoptee-centred, thus failing to contemplate the rise of a similar desire for knowledge on the side of the woman and, as a result, her right to initiate a search for her child; secondly, although the multiplicity of parties concerned is often invoked as a peculiarity of as well as a source of complexity in the regulation of anonymous birth, the figure of the biological father is de facto rarely acknowledged and involved, under the controversial assumption that all undesired pregnancies which lead to anonymous birth are the result of abusive relationships.

Affiliations: 1: PhD Researcher, Law Department, European University Institute, Firenze, Italy,


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