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URPP Human Reproduction Reloaded | H2R

New publication "Registering births: What’s care got to do with it?" by Alice Margaria (2024)

This article sheds light on the normative dimension of birth registration and explores how birth registration practices intertwine with traditional notions of child care. It shows that, while birth registration may appear a straightforward and factual procedure, it actually rests upon and perpetuates the notion that care ‘naturally’ stems from gestation and birth, and is by definition maternal. This normative dimension of birth registration becomes especially apparent when trans families and families created through surrogacy are denied registration in line with their lived experience. By delving into two case studies, namely the Swiss Federal Supreme Court’s latest case-law on surrogacy and recent cases involving trans birthing men, this article shows that birth registration practices fail to recognise caring relationships in non-traditional families on their own terms. In the context of surrogacy, the understanding of care as ‘naturally’ arising from gestation and birth downgrades the relationship between the child and the intended mother by requiring her to pursue step-child adoption, despite having cared for the child since birth and sometimes being genetically connected. In a similar vein, birth registration practices tend to (mis)classify a caring relationship between a trans birthing man and his child as ‘mother-child’, thus rendering trans male care invisible. Continue reading