From the Daily Mail:
A woman who became pregnant after a one-night stand yesterday won the right to keep the existence of her baby a secret from its father.
In a landmark decision, three Appeal Court judges agreed that the 20-year-old single mother has “the ultimate veto” over whom should be told about the child, who is being put up for adoption.
Describing the case as “on any view extraordinary”, Lord Justice Thorpe ruled there was no justification for “breaking open the mother’s secret”.
And Lady Justice Arden said this was not a violation of the father’s rights to family life under the Human Rights Act because he had no rights to be violated.
The mother, who cannot be identified by order of the court, had kept her pregnancy hidden from her family, colleagues and the father.
She gave birth five months ago and left the baby girl, known only as E, in hospital shortly afterwards.
When she asked for the child to be put up for adoption, a county court ordered that her parents and the father should be told to give them the opportunity to apply to adopt.
But yesterday, the judges decided the father had no rights over the child, who is now in foster care, because “he was only a one-night stand”.
And they banned the local authority and guardian from taking any steps to identify him or telling him about his daughter.
What an appalling ruling.
I can imagine individual cases in which a court might justifiably rule to keep a born child secret from her father; for instance, if there was compelling evidence that an particular father, if informed, would be physically dangerous to the mother or the child. But from what’s said in this article, in this case there seems to be no justification for not informing the father and giving him the opportunity to raise his daughter.
This ruling contributes to sexism, by implicitly reinforcing the idea that men cannot be responsible for the upbringing of children. It also creates a short road to the conclusion that fathers of children conceived in one-night-stands shouldn’t have responsibilities to their offspring.
I hope this ruling doesn’t stand.