To address the status issues raised in my interviewees’ accounts, I will focus on the three questions posed in the introduction.

Does Anglo-Welsh family law have the necessary mechanisms for recognising the parental role of co-mothers?

As outlined in the introduction, the legal concept of parenthood is made up of a number of components. Principally, these are: the parental status of either ‘mother’ or ‘father’ as registered following the child’s birth; the concurrent allocation of parental responsibility (subject to s 4 Children Act 1989); and an (almost) inalien­able link between the child and parent, and the parent’s wider family. The closest analogy to the parental role of the co-mother is that of the unmarried male partner of a woman who undertakes licensed donor insemination to conceive their child. In an unprecedented move, Anglo-Welsh law provides legal parenthood for such men in the absence of the traditional markers of this status: that is, a marital link with the mother or an assumed bio-genetic tie to the child.[319] As Franklin[320] notes, this provision illustrates the exercise of new powers of legal discourse to confer parenthood. Clearly, Anglo-Welsh legal discourse can, where considered neces­sary or desirable (for policy reasons, for example, matching children to fathers as outlined above), change the ‘markers’ it renders significant to the ascription of parenthood. Therefore, I would submit that legal parenthood already provides the necessary mechanisms to recognise co-mothers’ parental roles, although clearly access to this status is currently denied to them. (The policy reasons for this exclusion are discussed in the following section.)