Laws to love by

13.12.27: THE RADICAL IMPACT of new technology on family life over the past quarter century is the subject of a new book called Look Back In Anger.

Beginning on a quaint note with the story of Dolly, the first cloned sheep, it moves on to look at the campaign for licensed parenthood (LP) that has dominated debate on family policy in the US for much of the decade. It looks first at the inventions that gave birth to the LP movement: staggered marriage, allowing a reversible vow for those without children and a second vow with a 20-year minimum term from the birth of the first child; five-years-per-child mandatory stay-at-home parenthood; time banks, which allowed the 20-year couples to take their pensions early to cover earnings lost during the heavy childcare years; foetal transfer, which has allowed foetuses that would otherwise have been aborted to be transferred to adoptive wombs; and the five-yearly family quality inventories (FQIs) that have meant homemakers need to keep to the same standards as schoolteachers.

The book then examines the ways in which sectors of society have resisted these incursions, branded "family McCarthyism" by some. These include illegal pregnancy, rogue midwives, disputes over transferred foetuses, a rise in the number of unlicensed cohabiting parents and a record number of children being born and brought up outside the system. MF