Giving birth but refusing motherhood: inauthentic choice or self-determining identity?

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Issues of what personal autonomy and identity means are investigated in the context of the European Court of Human Rights’ development of Article 8’s right to respect one’s private life into a right to personal autonomy, identity and integrity with particular reference to French anonymous birthing as explored by that court in Odièvre v France and feminist literature on mothering and autonomy. Although much critiqued by feminists, personal autonomy has been reconceptualised to mean something of worth to women. Yet, this version of autonomy can diverge into two directions in terms of individual identity as evidenced in Odièvre and in feminist literature: self-determination or self-realisation/authenticity. Conclusions are reached that making autonomy dependent on claims to ‘authenticity’ restricts personal freedom and thus ultimately identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-185
JournalInternational Journal of Law in Context
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • european human rights law
  • women's confidentiality
  • secret births

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