The Finnish Parliament has approved a new citizen's initiative-based law that allows two women to become mothers before the child is even born, national broadcaster Yle reported.
The law, whose aim is to create security in families with two mothers and eliminate the stress associated with bureaucratic procedures, was passed by a broad majority. A total of 122 MPs voted in favor of the law, while only 42 were opposed.
According to the changes in the Maternity Act, both women in same-sex partnerships will be recognized as mothers even before a child is born, as soon as the pregnancy can be safely established. At the moment, the woman not carrying the child must adopt the child in order to gain legal rights as a parent. Proponents of the new law have called this process slow, expensive and humiliating. Additionally, it may lead to unclear legal situations, and in a worst-case scenario the child may end up parentless and without a legal guardian, if the mother dies during childbirth.
While the changes were celebrated as a landmark in the struggle for human rights, they nevertheless evoked a critical reaction among the Finnish public.
"Good for the ladies, but sorry for the men. Why doesn't a male couple get the same rights? This must be the most gender-discriminatory law ever established. A little tragicomic that not a single feminist sees any problem with it," a user wrote in the comments section of the Hufvudstadsbladet daily.
"Why not two legal fathers? And why only two? Why cannot a child have more dads and mothers? A collective, perhaps? Start a citizens' initiative. It has all chances to succeed, unfortunately," another one chipped in sarcastically.
Yet another user drew an even less charming picture of the future in a "society without common sense."
"We'll soon have pigs, cows and why not lawn mowers at the altar," the user with the handle Tänkaren ("The Thinker") wrote.
The changes to the Maternity Act are the result of a civic initiative submitted to parliament in 2016 and signed by 55,000 Finnish citizens.
Nevertheless, the joy of the initiators has been somewhat subdued, as the new law doesn't even apply to all two-mother families, but only to cases of assisted conception in which the donor doesn't want to establish paternity. Should a female couple have children in another way, a legal father can and will be established.
The campaigners would prefer to add expand the family definition, so that a child can have more than two parents, for instance, one father and two mothers.
Anna Mornig of the Citizens' Initiative has nevertheless admitted that this is hardly politically achievable as of today.
"It will take time, and we have five, probably ten years of work ahead of us," Mornig told Yle.
This is the second citizens' initiative approved by the Finnish Parliament. The first one was passed in 2014 with a narrow majority and allowed same-sex couples to marry. The changes to the Maternity Act were prepared several years ago by former Justice Minister Anna-Maja Henriksson, but ended up being shelved due to staunch opposition by the Christian Democrats. Now, the Christian Democrats are the only Finnish party unanimously opposed to the changes.