Parents Want to Use Dead Son's Sperm to Make a Baby
March 29, 2011
Only child Ohad Ben-Yaakov was killed in an accident at the age of 27, but his parents, Mali and Dudi Ben-Yaakov, aren't giving up on their dream of becoming grandparents. They've embarked on a legal battle to use their deceased son's sperm to make him a posthumous father. "If we were entitled to donate the organs of our son why are we not entitled to make use of his sperm in order to bring offspring to the world?" they asked.
Oddly enough, this isn’t the only story about a deceased man’s sperm in the news these days: there’s also this story from India of a woman becoming pregnant with her husband's baby following his death five years earlier. But in Ben-Yaakov's case, there isn't a woman in the picture (yet—his parents are hoping to find a woman to become pregnant, should they win their case), so it's become a legal struggle over ownership of the sperm.
In 2003, then-Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein allowed that a deceased man’s partner may use his sperm to bear children, but specifically disallowed the deceased’s parents such rights, stating that parents do not have legal standing “on the issue of their children’s fertility. Not in their lifetime, and certainly not when they are dead. Providing an opening to the parents of a partner to enter intimate and private area such as this raises very difficult questions and complex issues, and this should be avoided ... the law does not recognize the right to have a grandchild."
It's interesting that this takes place in Israel, a country with the highest IVF rate in the world--1,800 treatment cycles each year per million people, compared to 240 in the US. It seems to be a society deeply invested in using cutting-edge technology for procreation, which makes me think the Ben-Yaakovs have a shot with their precedent-setting case.
What do you think? Should Ohad Ben-Yaakov's parents be able to become grandparents, or must his sperm forever RIP?