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Season 2 Episode 5: Listening to Children: Children’s perspectives on surrogacy law

Welcome back for another episode of the Mason Institute Investigates podcast. In this episode, I am joined by Dr Katherine Wade (Twitter: @DrKatherineWade), Dr Kirsty Horsey (Twitter: @khorsey) and Dr Zaina Mahmoud (Twitter: @surrogacyreform) who will talk about their project called “Children’s Voices in Surrogacy Law”.

Amid new recommendations for reforming surrogacy, the team adopted a novel approach, defying adult centric assumptions about surrogacy and instead asked children what they thought of surrogacy.

“So, I think when it comes to listening to children’s perspectives here, one of the important things to note is with this Law Commissions project, they were very keen to hear from all of those who are impacted by surrogacy… But one thing that’s always been left out of these discussions are the children themselves. There’s a lot of interest in how the children feel. What do the children think that no one’s actually ever asked them how they feel, or how they think?”

Dr Zaina Mahmoud

In their response to questions regarding surrogacy, parenthood, contributions for surrogacy etc, children gave varied responses which contradicted previously published reports on the effects of surrogacy on children.

“… we asked the participants whether they think children born to surrogacy might be negatively affected if they knew their surrogate had been paid. There was no consensus, but I was very interested … because some of the reports… expressed concerns that children might be damaged through knowledge that your surrogate had been paid. But there were comments from children born through surrogacy that actually they were indifferent towards this, and it didn’t matter to them. That was an interesting thing that came out of this particular topic…”

Dr Katherine Wade

In their project, the team collaborated with children and young people to share their views, opinions, and direct experiences with surrogacy with the wider audience, in particular those who are involved in law and policy making.

“… we’ve had a lot of feedback from academics and others in our area, including, practising lawyers, even a judge who said that the research is really valuable, really useful, and has some novel way of looking at things. And so, we do hope that it will sort of get rid of that adult centric model and feed into the process of law reform… we anticipate there will be parliamentary debate at some point…”

Dr Kirsty Horsey

Since the recording of this podcast in March 2023, the Law Commission of England and Wales with the Scottish Law Commission have published their Report: Building Families through Surrogacy: A New Law which sets outs recommendations for legal change in the area of surrogacy. The Children’s Voices in Surrogacy Law project was cited in this report, as well as in a recent Nuffield Council on Bioethics Policy Briefing on surrogacy. This is the first time that children’s views on surrogacy law have been incorporated into a reform agenda for surrogacy.

Listen to the podcast episode on Media Hopper.

View the accompanying episode transcript (PDF)

Check out the channel of Mason Institute Investigates for other episodes.

For more information, please see the below links to further resources. Happy listening!

Written by Leyla Noury (Twitter: @dheggacad)

Links and further resources:

Wade K, Horsey K and Mahmoud Z, ‘Children’s Voices in Surrogacy Law: What We Do’ (Children’s Voices in Surrogacy Law)

Nuffield Council, ‘Policy Briefing: Surrogacy Law in the UK’ (The Nuffield Council on Bioethics, 16 March 2023)

Law Commission, ‘Building Families through Surrogacy: A New Law’ (Law Commission, 28 March 2023)


‘Mason Institute Investigates’ is produced and edited by the Mason Institute and made with funding from the Edinburgh Law School.

The intro song is ‘Secret to Success’ by Scott Holmes Music

The outro song is ‘Inspirational Outlook’ by Scott Holmes Music

Both are available under Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International Creative Commons Licence from Free Music Archive

Image from Children’s Voices in Surrogacy Law

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