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Title: Reproductive outsiders
Author: Millbank, Jenni
ISNI:       0000 0004 5361 6474
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2015
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This body of work examines law’s response to non-genetic families. I have always centred the experience of family formation and family life such that I have traversed and linked distinct legal sites and doctrines, examining access to family formation avenues, models for legal recognition of families once formed and, latterly, legal responses to information sharing and broader kinship practices among genetically related individuals in childhood and later life. In doing so I have made a major contribution to a body of scholarship centring ‘lived lives’ in the exploration of family, relationship and reproduction law at its broadest, incorporating comparative analysis across closely related jurisdictions, attention to and integration of sociological data, and a focus on responsive practical reform outcomes. As an important part of my focus upon lived lives I have brought a continual awareness of gender to the unpacking of ‘gay and lesbian’ equality claims and reform movements to analyse the differential position of women and men in relation to parenting and paid labour, and latterly to build a framework of analysis that bridges heterosexual/same-sex family formation issues (papers 1, 2, 3) to examine links and resonances across ‘reproductive outsiders’ or non-genetic family forms (papers 3, 4). The sweep and reach of this approach makes an original contribution by stepping out of doctrinal and jurisdictional silos to examine the impact of law upon, and the unmet legal needs of, non-genetic families through the life cycle. Throughout these works I have contributed to analysis and debate about the role of ‘the eternal biological family’ in law, specifically engaging in the inter-relation of developing social notions of genetic essentialism, father’s rights and recognition of non-genetic family forms, in legal regimes governing family relationships. I have been one of the leading thinkers in the area of ‘functional family’ developing a clear articulation of how these ideas, drawn from psychology and sociology were mapped across into legal regimes recognising informal relationships (paper 1), examining the limitations of ‘functionality’ when in conflict with genetic parenthood (paper 2) and going on to build a framework for understandings of legal parenthood in non-genetic families as involving a dynamic interaction of intentionality and functionality (paper 2 and 3). In my work on ART and surrogacy I have built upon a body of feminist work on relational theory, agency and resonant choice. I have applied this approach to argue for the centring of an understanding of the interests and needs of parties in ART as part of a web of relationships rather than as isolated and oppositional rights (papers 6, 7, 8). In particular I have made original contributions to understandings of the human embryo in law not as an entity worthy of recognition in its own right, but as an object of unique value to the woman who created it, including on occasion as an imagined relation (paper 6); in directing attention to lateral rather than simply linear genetic links in ART law and policy (paper 6, 7, 8); in looking at how the views of parents shape and interact with those of offspring in seeking information on genetic relatives (paper 8) and in understandings of the significance of the numbers of potential genetic relatives (paper 7). In this area I have made important contributions to unpacking policy rationales and examining the largely ignored evidence base concerning family numbers and identity disclosure regimes (papers 7, 8) and concerning the experiences of surrogates in the development of laws governing surrogacy parentage and payment (papers 4, 5). I have argued for a nuanced and attentive notion of relatedness in law, incorporating the diverse and changeable understandings of the significance of genetic links (traversing a wide range of meanings from information source to family member) that individuals in non-genetic families formed through ART have expressed (papers 4, 5, 6,7, 8). Taken together, this is a body of feminist socio-legal work on the regulation of family relationships, assisted reproduction, genetics, kinship in law. Through this work I have made an original contribution to both scholarly thinking and legislative and policy frameworks responding to the needs of non-genetic family forms.
Supervisor: Sheldon, Sally Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: K Law