'Suitable mothers': lesbian and single women and the 'unborn' in Australian parliamentary discourse

Smith, Jennifer Lynne (2003) 'Suitable mothers': lesbian and single women and the 'unborn' in Australian parliamentary discourse. Critical Social Policy, 23 1: 63-88. doi:10.1177/0261018303023001494

Author Smith, Jennifer Lynne
Title 'Suitable mothers': lesbian and single women and the 'unborn' in Australian parliamentary discourse
Journal name Critical Social Policy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0261-0183
Publication date 2003-02
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1177/0261018303023001494
Volume 23
Issue 1
Start page 63
End page 88
Total pages 26
Editor N. Ginsburg
Place of publication London, England
Publisher Sage Publications Ltd
Collection year 2003
Language eng
Subject C1
370102 Social Policy and Planning
750303 Gender
Abstract Throughout the latter months of 2000 and early 2001, the Australian public, media and parliament were engaged in a long and emotive debate about motherhood. This debate constructed the two main protagonists, the unborn 'child' and the potential mother, with a variety of different and often oppositional identities. The article looks at the way that these subject identities interacted during the debate, starting from the premise that policy making has unintended and unacknowledged material outcomes, and using governmentality as a tool through which to analyse and understand processes of identity manipulation and resistance within policy making. The recent debate concerning the right of lesbian and single women to access new reproductive technologies in Australia is used as a case study. Nominally the debate was about access to IVF technology; in reality, however, the debate was about the governing of women and, in particular, the governing of motherhood identities. The article focuses on the parliamentary debate over the drafting of legislation designed to stop lesbian and single women from accessing these technologies, particularly the utilization of the 'unborn' subject within these debates as a device to discipline the identity of 'mother'.
Keyword Governmentality
Reproductive Technologies
Social Issues
Social Sciences, Interdisciplinary
Q-Index Code C1

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: 2004 Higher Education Research Data Collection
School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 9 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 13 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Wed, 15 Aug 2007, 01:47:57 EST