Did you hear about the lady who got a court order to preserve her murdered son’s body so she could harvest his sperm?
And why did she want the sperm? So she could use it to impregnate a surrogate and get some grandbabies.
As someone who is interested in reproductive issues in general, I find the ethical dilemmas surrounding fertility and parenthood to be endlessly fascinating. I even wrote about it once after reading a (kind of old) book on the subject. Sadly, this is not the first I’ve heard of someone wanting to harvest the sperm of a dead son in order to get grandchildren. When I read this news story, I was a bit taken aback for a while, and had to figure out what I thought about it. My reaction (in this order) was:
pity for the potential grandchild
pity for the dead kid
In no part of my reaction did the feeling of “This is a great idea!” come up. I’m sorry, but violating your child’s dead body in order to possibly carry on your genetic line is NOT OK. It’s just not. Even if you have tons of money and resources to throw at a surrogate and a child, what gives you the right to bring a person into the world who’s got one dead parent and one stranger for a parent? All to appease the sensibility of a neurotic grandparent? No. It’s not OK. It’s not ok to take the sperm from someone who never consented, or to take eggs from someone who never consented, and make a new person who is going to be born into a psychological mess.
The way I see it is that you get your own shot to make kids. If you have kids, and they don’t end up having kids (for whatever reason – they die, they don’t want kids, they can’t have kids, whatever), TOO BAD. You raise children to become adults who make their own decisions about whether or not to reproduce. You are not automatically entitled to grandchildren, even if medical science will allow it.
Does this woman know whether or not her son would have wanted children? I know ultimately it shouldn’t matter, since after he died what was his body just became a collection of cells. I am glad the woman opted to donate her son’s organs so that other people can have better lives. I am NOT glad that the courts decided she should be allowed to take his sperm in order to make grandchildren for her.
I’ve heard of similar situations, where the significant other of a dead/dying man wishes to harvest his sperm in order to have his child. I find that to be kind of bothersome as well, but at least there was theoretically a decision made by the couple beforehand, or some discussion, as to whether or not to have children. I can understand wanting to have a living reminder of a dead partner. But once you’re a generation removed, I’m sorry, but no dice. No person’s DNA is indispensible enough that it should be postumously used to fuel someone’s desire for grandchildren.
If you’re really that desperate to have grandchildren, have you ever heard of this program called Big Brothers Big Sisters? Or considered becoming a foster parent? Or doing some other sort of service work with children who need parental figures? Because there are a heck of a lot of kids out there that need people like that already. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved. This, on the other hand? This I can only see as lose. It’s lose for the dead guy (who didn’t get to have any reproductive choice). It’s lose for the potential child who will never know his or her parents. And it’s lose for the grandparent who, lets be honest here, is grieving over losing her own child and is just looking to replace him with an updated model.
So, lady who just harvested her son’s sperm in order to get grandbabies, to you I say: FAIL. You are wrong. This is not OK.