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Lesbian Motherhood and the Artificial Insemination by Donor Scandal of 1978

Jennings, R; (2017) Lesbian Motherhood and the Artificial Insemination by Donor Scandal of 1978. Twentieth Century British History , 28 (4) pp. 570-594. 10.1093/tcbh/hwx013. Green open access

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Abstract

In January 1978, the London Evening News informed its readers of its shocking discovery that British lesbians were conceiving babies by artificial insemination by donor (AID). Assisted by a respected London gynaecologist, Dr David Sopher, the women were planning and raising children in the context of lesbian relationships, challenging conventional family models and the widespread presumption that lesbianism and motherhood were mutually exclusive identities. The debate which was sparked by the Evening News expose and taken up in Parliament, the national and local media and on the streets in the subsequent weeks, offers an insight into attitudes towards lesbian motherhood in the late 1970s. This article explores constructions of lesbian mothers and the impact on the experiences and identities of lesbian mothers themselves. The late 1970s marked the beginnings of a shift in practices of conception by British lesbians from lesbians who conceived their children in the context of previous heterosexual relationships, to women who utilized AID and other forms of donor insemination to forge new family structures, and this article analyses the stories of some of these women as they emerged from the 1978 debate.

Type: Article
Title: Lesbian Motherhood and the Artificial Insemination by Donor Scandal of 1978
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1093/tcbh/hwx013
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1093/tcbh/hwx013
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10082198
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