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Regulating Lesbian Motherhood: Gender, Sexuality and Medically Assisted Reproduction in Portugal

Author

Listed:
  • Tânia Cristina Machado

    () (University of Minho, Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Campus de Gualtar, Braga 4710–047, Portugal)

  • Ana Maria Brandão

    () (University of Minho, Instituto de Ciências Sociais, Campus de Gualtar, Braga 4710–047, Portugal)

Abstract

This article analyses juridical discourses about Medically Assisted Reproduction (MAR) in Portugal, focusing specifically on the access of lesbians to this type of intervention. Empirical data refer to an exploratory research that combined the analysis of legislation with non-directive interviews to five judges from Family and Juvenile Courts of Law of the Northern Region of Portugal. One argues that the representation of motherhood present in the law reinforces and reproduces normative sexuality and femininity while simultaneously justifies the exclusion of lesbians from MAR. As such, although Portuguese legislation emerges as a mechanism of partial deregulation of the gender regime since it appears to weaken the practical and causal association between sexuality and procreation, in fact, it ends up reinforcing dominant ideas of femininity and family. As for the judges who were interviewed, their representations of motherhood are broad enough to encompass medically assisted motherhood and/or motherhood accomplished within a lesbian couple. This is achieved through a process of normalisation of the lesbian and/or of lesbian motherhood, which may resort to five different assumptions: (i) parenthood as a desire inherent to every human being; (ii) motherhood as a defining element of femininity; (iii) motherhood as a project framed by a stable conjugal relationship; (iv) lesbian motherhood as something that can be accomplished through “natural” means; (v) parenthood as a mechanism of social reproduction of the gender regime. These assumptions are differently combined and support different positions regarding lesbian motherhood: although some judges seem to concur with the preservation of heteronormativity, most favour legal changes to encompass other models of sexuality and family.

Suggested Citation

  • Tânia Cristina Machado & Ana Maria Brandão, 2013. "Regulating Lesbian Motherhood: Gender, Sexuality and Medically Assisted Reproduction in Portugal," Laws, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 2(4), pages 1-14, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jlawss:v:2:y:2013:i:4:p:469-482:d:30774
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    lesbian motherhood; medically assisted reproduction; juridical discourses; representations; gender;

    JEL classification:

    • K0 - Law and Economics - - General
    • K1 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law
    • K2 - Law and Economics - - Regulation and Business Law
    • K3 - Law and Economics - - Other Substantive Areas of Law
    • K4 - Law and Economics - - Legal Procedure, the Legal System, and Illegal Behavior
    • D78 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Positive Analysis of Policy Formulation and Implementation
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E62 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Fiscal Policy
    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F42 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - International Policy Coordination and Transmission
    • F68 - International Economics - - Economic Impacts of Globalization - - - Policy

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