About the Project

The Rethinking Surrogacy Laws project is a UC collaborative project, involving members from Law, Business, Health Sciences, Philosophy, and the Office of the Assistant Vice-Chancellor Maori. It is a three year project (2015-2018), with the initial phase being funded by the New Zealand Law Foundation.

The aim of the project is to rethink Aotearoa New Zealand’s regulatory framework for surrogacy. The current law is generally recognised as being out of date with the reality of this emerging and rapidly growing form of artificial reproduction. In 2004, the New Zealand Law Commission noted an urgent need for specific surrogacy legislation. This recommendation was accepted in principle by the Government but to date no changes have been proposed.

The project will consider the legal, ethical and cultural issues arising from surrogacy. As examples, these include:

  • child welfare
  • reproductive freedom
  • exploitation of the surrogate
  • commodification of the child
  • immigration and citizenship
  • parenthood and custody

It will consider the interests, perspectives and rights of the child, surrogate mother and intended parents, together with the process of arranging surrogacy and the legal and ethical implications of surrogacy arrangements.

We will conduct critical and comparative legal analysis as well as qualitative interviews with stakeholders, policy makers and interest groups in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas.

Aotearoa New Zealand’s unique cultural identity will feature prominently throughout the research.

We intend that our project will facilitate debate and form the basis of legislative changes.

For further information, please contact Dr Debra Wilson

Project goals

  1. To identify and consider the legal and ethical issues which potentially arise as a result of surrogacy arrangements.
  2. To identify and consider the cultural and societal beliefs and concerns of iwi Māori in relation to surrogacy.
  3. To identify and consider the cultural and societal beliefs and concerns of other cultures within Aotearoa New Zealand in relation to surrogacy.
  4. To consider the effectiveness and appropriateness of the current regulation of surrogacy in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  5. To evaluate different options for the regulation of surrogacy, including domestic and/or international law reform, or amendment to regulatory guidelines.
  6. To develop a best-practice guide for New Zealanders considering domestic or international surrogacy arrangements.

The team is also working in collaboration with researchers in Australia and the United Kingdom. We would be interested in hearing from anyone else researching in this area.

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