Why Donor Insemination Requires Developments in Family Law

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This book examines the legal framework and practices surrounding licensed donor insemination in Britain at the end of the twentieth-century, together with a detailed consideration of the legislative and policy based changes in the early years of the twenty-first century. Drawing on interviews with single women, lesbian couples and heterosexual couples, this analysis focuses on the practical effects of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act for women and men who had sought access to and used this procedure. This qualitative study explores the complexities and significance of the legal construction of parenthood and ‘the family’, together with the (re)configurations of biogenetic ties in the context of families with children conceived through donor insemination.


“In this very accessible and well-written text, Caroline Jones explores the changing landscape of UK reproductive and kinship practices. She tells the fascinating story of donor insemination and of the forging of its legal scaffolding in the UK in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. As her title suggests, she simultaneously tells the stories of the making of family lives with, through, and against these structures. As she would acknowledge, such stories continue to unfold and proliferate, but this book makes it much easier to understand how and why they matter.” - Professor Maureen McNeil, Professor of Women’s Studies and Cultural Studies, Lancaster University

“This book makes a significant contribution to questions which are of increasing importance in light of new ways of constituting family life in the 20th and 21st centuries. ... Throughout, the book offers cogent evaluation and analysis with a probing eye on gender and sexuality, overall producing fascinating insights into the ways of becoming, being and doing family life.” - Dr. Julie Wallbank, LL.B., Ph.D., School of Law, University of Leeds

“The text displays an appropriately reflexive and sensitive awareness of the difficult and ethically challenging subject matter, and the methodology section which navigates the researcher’s journey will in my opinion doubtless prove valuable for students and researchers, as will the feminist Foucauldian theoretical framework, which is usefully interwoven with the empirical elements and critique. ... It deserves to find a wide readership, including GPs, Clinicians, practitioners both medical and legal, academics, students, policy makers and importantly those with a personal interest in donor insemination, who may find both use and resonance in Jones’s analysis.” - Dr. Bela Chatterjee, LL.B., Ph.D., School of Law, Lancaster University

Table of Contents

Foreword Professor Maureen McNeil
1 Introduction
2 A Framework for a Feminist Foucauldian Approach to Licensed Donor Insemination
3 Methodological Issues
4 Normalization and the Negotiation of Power Relations in the Access Process
5 Bio-Genetic Continuity: Negotiating Donor Anonymity and Looking Like a Family
6 Parents in Law: Naming Mothers and Fathers
7 Reconceptualizing Child Welfare and “the Family”: Emerging Issues in Twenty-First Century Anglo-Welsh Legal Discourse

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