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Parliament debates whether child can have two mothers from birth

The Finnish Parliament on Wednesday debated a proposal that would recognise both women in same-sex partnerships as mothers —from the moment their child is born.

Image: Ismo Pekkarinen / AOP

Finland's Parliament on Wednesday debated a citizens' initiative that would allow both women in same-sex partnerships to be recognised as mothers immediately following the birth of their child.

The proposed change to the Maternity Act would apply to same-sex partnerships where one of the women undergoes infertility treatment to become pregnant.

Currently, in order to gain legal rights as a parent the woman not giving birth must adopt the child - a process that the proponents of the new law call slow, expensive and humiliating.

Best interests of the child

Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee dealt with the proposal last week and gave it the green light. Kari Tolvanen, the Chairman of the committee, said on Wednesday it would be in the child's best interest to have both parents recognised from birth. This is especially important if the mother dies while giving birth, said Tolvanen, who represents the National Coalition Party.

Two MPs from the Christian Democratic Party voiced their opposition. Sari Taunus said that Tolvanen's example was shaky as Finland boasts one of the lowest maternity mortality rates in the world. She also called odd the claims made by female couples that the adoption process is strenuous and time-consuming.

Her colleague Antero Laukkanen said by passing the law Finland would make some children legally fatherless until they turn 18. Even after the child reached maturity, the biological father would not be recognized as a legal parent, Laukkanen added.

Taunus and Laukkanen wanted the proposal sent to the Constitutional Law Committee for consideration but they did not garner enough support.

Parliament is expected to vote on the proposal next week.