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My name is Sylvie Armstrong, and I am a PhD Candidate here at the European University Institute (admitted 2018). The working title for my thesis is ‘Commercial Surrogacy: Can Labour Law Provide a Solution?’. It is supervised by Professor Claire Kilpatrick. 

My thesis seeks to re-examine the regulatory paradigms currently used to manage the commercial surrogacy industry and argue in favour of a more productive alternative: labour law. It is argued that the current approach, namely widespread prohibition, is both unsuccessful and normatively undesirable. Thought often overlooked in a field where the legal imaginaries are dominated by family law or ideas of absolute freedom of contract, it is argued that labour law provides a coherent and productive alternative. The key premise is that the best way to manage the risks of commodification and exploitation posed by this industry is not prohibition, but rather legal protection through regulation. The possibilities provided by employment as a form of protected contract, it is suggested, are a pragmatic compromise in the light of ongoing failure to reach a sui generis international arrangement.

My thesis draws in particular on the artificial paradigm that has emerged between productive and reproductive labour in the employment market and the unjustifiably detrimental impact this has on women. It also questions where the line between agency and victimhood ought to be drawn. 

My other academic interests include the relationship between sex and marriage, and whether retaining the former as a definitional requirement can be justified. This is with particular focus on the impact it has on same-sex couples, asexuals, and the laws of prohibited degrees. 

Prior to the EUI, I completed my BA in Law at the University of Cambridge. I also hold a Master of Laws (Comparative, European and International Laws) from the EUI.