Italy has several laws in place to protect mothers and newborns, who are distinct people each with their own separate rights. In hospital, women have the right not to recognize their child and to do this anonymously. Expectant mothers must be informed of their rights and the options available to them. Newborns are recognized as people in their own right with a separate legal personality and all the legal rights that follow from legal personhood. Most importantly this means they have inviolable rights as an individual, and the right to a name, citizenship, education and to grow up as part of a family, even if it is not the birth family.
the right to recognise, or not recognise, the newborn as the woman’s child
Article 30, sub-section 2, Presidential Decree of 3 November 2000 sets forth the regulation to review and simplify rules governing civil status, and expressly states that mothers can choose whether to recognize their newborn child as their own. Said regulation also prescribes that the doctor or midwife delivering the baby must register the birth with the registrar or with the medical director of the hospital “respecting the wishes of the mother should she choose to remain anonymous“.
the right to give birth anonymously
social services and hospitals are obliged by law to treat a mother who “chooses not to reveal her identity” with the utmost confidentiality and discretion and to ensure all details in her regard are not divulged outside the hospital.
The mother’s name and any information about her are protected by law. To this effect, anyone encountering the name of the mother through their professional capacity must not reveal it and would be committing a crime should they do so.
the right to receive clear, accurate information
a practical understanding of legislation and the right to obtain social, psychological and health care during and after the delivery regardless of the decision to recognize the baby or not.
The child’s rights
fundamental rights of the individual
newborns are recognized under Italian law as people in their own right with a separate legal personality and all the legal rights that follow from legal personhood, most importantly inviolable rights of the individual, and the right to a name, citizenship, education and to grow up as part of a family, even if it is not the birth family.
the right to grow up in a family, even if not the birth family:
When a newborn is abandoned, the hospital immediately notifies the registrar to obtain a name and surname, and the Juvenile Court. The latter immediately declares the child eligible for adoption unless the parents have requested time to recognize their child (up to 2 months) and are still taking care of it in some way. After declaring a newborn eligible for adoption, the Juvenile Court screens the list of couples available to adopt an Italian-born child and selects the candidates most suited to bring up and maintain the baby, also taking into account the particular characteristics of the infant. On selection of the potential parents, the Court prepares to allow the infant to be assigned to the family in a pre-adoption arrangement for one year. The infant and family are monitored by welfare and social services during this period, who report back to the Juvenile Court on how the pre-adoption period is progressing and providing any necessary support. If problems arise during this period, the Court can extend the pre-adoption period or terminate it in the most serious of cases. If the pre-adoption period is completed successfully, the Court signs the adoption decree and the infant becomes the legal child of the adoptive family and takes their surname.