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'Everybody's got a dad...'. Issues for lesbian families in the management of donor insemination

Lookup NU author(s): Emerita Professor Erica Haimes


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This article explores the experiences of lesbians who have become mothers using donated semen. During the 1980s lesbian access to clinic-based donor insemination was limited because it was seen to threaten both the traditional family and the medical definition of 'infertility'. However, the spread of self-insemination networks has enabled more lesbians to become mothers. This article analyses how lesbians negotiate and manage the role that donated semen, and donors, play in their, and their children's, lives. In the discussion, it is suggested that lesbian donor insemination has now gained some acceptance, but only within a medicalised framework. Self-insemination is still seen as a threat to medicine since it is a de-professionalised, de-medicalised practice that privileges the lay knowledge and concerns of the women themselves.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Haimes E, Weiner K

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Sociology of Health and Illness

Year: 2000

Volume: 22

Issue: 4

Pages: 477-499

ISSN (print): 0141-9889

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9566

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/1467-9566.00215


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