Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 19 Issue 4 (July/August 2009), Pages 241-329

Access to reproductive technologies by single women and lesbians: Social representations and public debate (pages 241-256)


A landmark decision in 2000 by the Federal Court of Australia (FCA) allowed access to medically assisted reproductive technologies (MART) regardless of marital status, i.e. by single women and lesbians. This decision sparked much debate, including comments by the Prime Minister of Australia and hundreds of letters to newspapers around the country. In this study, 180 letters to the editor in two newspapers were analyzed to identify themes and processes relevant to conceptualizing who should have access to MART. Representations of family were particularly evident and themes supported the traditional family structure of a mother, father and children, arguing that access to MART should be restricted to this family form. However, emerging representations of family, based on themes of positive parenting values, independent of gender and number of parents, were also observed, suggesting that political agendas restricting MART to heterosexual family structures are not supported by public consensus, or by the emerging acceptance of alternative family forms. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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