Sophie-Marie Humbert Honored with Otto Hahn Medal

Legal Scholar Receives Prestigious Award for Outstanding Dissertation

June 13, 2024

This year, Sophie-Marie Humbert is one of the recipients of the Otto Hahn Medal of the Max Planck Society. The distinction is being conferred upon the legal scholar for her doctoral thesis “Plädoyer für die Legalisierung der Leihmutterschaft. Inter­dis­zi­pli­nä­re Analyse der Problemfelder und Regulierungsvorschlag am Vorbild der Lebend­organspende” [The Case for Le­gal­izing Surrogacy: An Interdisciplinary Analysis of the Problem Areas and a Pro­posal for Regulation Modelled on Living Organ Donation].

The cornerstones of Sophie-Marie Humbert's doctoral dissertation on surrogate motherhood are an interdisciplinary analysis and an inter­na­tional perspective. In her dissertation, the author uses an interdisci­plinary approach to review the arguments currently being used in Germany against permitting surrogacy. Exploring the moral questions that arise in connection with surrogate motherhood, she includes both ethical and legal considerations in her research. In addition, she examines whether an alternative legal approach to surrogacy is pref­er­able to the current legal situation; for example, the legal require­ments for living organ donation could also be applied to the regula­tion of surrogate motherhood.

The dissertation addresses fundamental legal and ethical questions and makes a compelling case for concrete rec­om­men­dations involving regulation instead of prohibition, explains the jury in its statement. The analysis “provides valuable impulses not only for jurisprudence but also for legal policy concerning the prospective legalization of surrogate mother­hood.” 

Sophie-Marie Humbert was a doctoral researcher in the Department of Criminal Law at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Crime, Security and Law in Freiburg from fall 2019 to late summer 2022. Tatjana Hörnle, director at the Institute and head of the Department of Criminal Law as well as honorary professor at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, supervised her doctoral studies. Last year, Humbert already received the award for the best doctoral thesis in the field of criminal law in 2022 from the Faculty of Law at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.


Every year since 1978, the Max Planck Society has awarded the Otto Hahn Medal to young researchers for outstanding scientific achievements, mostly in connection with their doctorate. The Medal is endowed with 7,500 euros of prize money.

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