'The contented faces of a unique Australian family': privilege and vulnerability in news media reporting of offshore surrogacy arrangements
Riggs, Damien Wayne
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In a paper recently published in Citizenship Studies (Riggs and Due 2013), we argued that media accounts of Australian citizens entering into offshore commercial surrogacy arrangements frequently evoke notions of the agentic reproductive citizen in order to represent medical or social infertility as a form of vulnerability that can be overcome through fertility travel. In that paper (and elsewhere, e.g., Riggs and Due 2010) we have also argued that media accounts of offshore commercial surrogacy undertaken by Australian citizens rely upon the depiction of women who act as surrogates as equally agentic in their decisions in regards to entering into surrogacy arrangements. Central to our argument in these previous papers has been the claim that if discussions about privilege remain at the periphery of media representations of offshore commercial surrogacy, then issues of vulnerability in relation to all parties will all too easily be discounted through a neoliberal narrative of agency. In addition, and following Millbank (2012), we would suggest that media commentary on issues such as surrogacy often shapes policy decisions, and thus it is important to examine how the news media in particular represents surrogacy. As such, in this commentary we extend our previous exploration of media coverage of offshore commercial surrogacy by examining a recent example of Australian news media reporting on the topic. Our aims in doing so are to examine how this example repeats the concerns raised above (thus suggesting something of a script evident in media reporting on the topic of offshore surrogacy), and to suggest some necessary changes to media reporting on offshore surrogacy that may help to engender a more holistic account of the topic.