On Replacement pp 125-135 | Cite as

Who is the ‘real’ mother? Replacement and the politics of surrogacy

  • Samantha Ashenden


The term ‘surrogate’ is regularly used to denote a woman who carries a child on behalf of others. It suggests that the woman who carries the child is a stand-in or substitute, a temporary replacement, and that the ‘real’ mother is elsewhere. But this late twentieth-century usage runs against the common legal principle mater semper certa est, which determines that the mother of a child is the woman who gave birth to the child. This leaves uncertainty concerning who is the ‘real’ mother, something played out in contested surrogacy cases. This chapter explores the legal regulation of surrogacy as a key site of replacement in the twenty-first century.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Samantha Ashenden
    • 1
  1. 1.Birkbeck, University of LondonLondonUK

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