The new parenthood provisions set out in Part 2 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 have been attacked as dangerous and radical, offering a ‘lego-kit model of family life’ and a ‘magical mystery tour’ in how legal fatherhood is to be determined. In this paper, we explain what is innovative about these new provisions but also explore what they owe to deep-rooted traditional assumptions about the family. Relying both on published documentation relating to this reform process and a small number of key actor interviews, we trace the imprint of what fineman has described as the ‘sexual family’ model on the provisions. We conclude that the way that parenthood is framed within the legislation relies on a number of important normative assumptions which received very little scrutiny in this process. We also highlight a number of tensions within this framing which, we suggest, may create future problems for judicial determination
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