The Adoption Act of 1996 is a controversial piece of Washingtonian legislation which most notably disallows persons to naturally conceive children while an orphanage in their parliamentary district has children available for adoption. The Act also regulates the procedure, standards and requirements needed to adopt a child.
The Adoption Act was proposed by the Union Nationalist Speaker of the Grand Assembly Damian Charleston in February 1994. The reason for the proposal, according to the UNP, was that there is no moral justification for a couple to have a child whilst children are stuck in orphanages without parents; however, it has been widely known at this point that such a bill was on the legislative agenda of King George IV.
The Christian Libertarian Party voiced concern over the bill's implication for Washingtonians' Chapter 2 constitutional right to liberty, which the Union Nationalists stated was limited due to the national interest clause in that section. The bill was widely debated in media and civil society with almost universal public opposition, however, passed the Grand Assembly by 61% of the vote on 26 March 1995.
"3(a) Disallowance to naturally conceive. No persons able to conceive naturally a child together will be allowed to do so while an orphanage registered with the Ministry of the Interior within their parliamentary district still hosts homeless children."
"4(a) Punishment for violation. Any persons who violate any provision of section 3 of this Act will be guilty of an offense in terms of this Act.
(i) If they are guilty of naturally conceiving a child while not being allowed to do so in terms of this Act, they shall be fined a sum of no less than C200 and no more than C500.
(ii) If at least three months after being found guilty on an offence in terms of this Act, they are found guilty once more of an offence in terms of this Act, they shall be fined a sum of no less than C500 and no more than C2,000, whereafter any additional offence thereafter in terms of this Act will lead to imprisonment of no less than 30 days."
Main article: Ex parte Harcourt, 14-1999 CC
The Act was challenged almost immediately in the South Island Provincial Court by Peter Harcourt, who has been along with his wife, been attempting to conceive a child for months prior to the Act's passing. The case was brought in the form of an ex parte application, meaning the case was only a question posed to the courts without a defendant party having to be present. Represented by FEDERAL, Harcourt argued that the Act was infringing upon his Chapter 2 Section 1 constitutional right to liberty, as the Christian Libertarians argued on the Assembly floor.
The South Island Provincial Court decided that the Act was indeed unconstitutional, however, the Constitutional Court intervened and stated that the Act was in line with the national interest clause of Chapter 2. The bench ruling was 4-1 with only Justice Daniel LeClaire opposing and stating that the Act unquestionable violates the right to liberty. There has since been widespread public outrage and several petitions to have the Constitutional Court reverse its judgment.