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Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#1 Old 10th Apr 2012 at 9:30 PM
Using your dead husband's sperm for IVF treatment... right or wrong?
Hello everyone. In our Religious Education lessons at school at the moment, we're learning about IVF treatment. I myself am a test tube baby, so I do already have a slight advantage over everyone else because my mother has taught me about it, but I want to see different people's opinions on this story our RE teacher told us to research for homework.

"Diane Blood first hit the headlines in 1996 when she went to court to fight for the right to use her late husband's sperm to try for the child they had planned together before his sudden death from meningitis. Diane's case caused an ethical storm and was debated in the courts, in Parliament and in the media. With huge public support, yet against almost impossible odds, she won on appeal and went on to have two miraculous little boys, Liam and Joel. After a particularly precarious pregnancy and after spending the first days of his life in the Intensive Care ward of the baby unit, Liam was finally allowed home on Christmas Eve 1998. By then, it was almost four years after his father's death. Baby Joel was born three and a half years later."

I'm unsure what my personal opinion on the matter at hand is. When I think about it, I do find it a bit creepy. But surely it's the same as a man donating sperm to a sperm bank and then dying. The woman who uses his sperm to conceive a child wouldn't know anything about the man, including the fact that he is no longer alive. I'd like to see some different opinions.

And also guys, I do not want a debate on whether IVF treatment is morally right or wrong. I repeat, I do NOT want a debate on that. This is about Diane Blood's case, not your views on fertility treatment itself. Thanks guys! :D

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#2 Old 10th Apr 2012 at 9:49 PM
It doesn't say when the sperm was taken, but I will assume that it was taken before he died, with his knowledge and consent. If that is indeed the case, and they were trying for a baby anyway, I don't see the harm. As you say, if she had gotten the sperm from a donor bank, she would have known nothing about the donor, including any health issues, living or dead, etc. When all is said and done, there are two young children, who are born innocent, and at least will know that they will be loved. But I think the real issue is, why this had to go so far in the courts? Doesn't that infringe on her reproductive rights? If they had denied her, it would make it easier to deny others. It's a slippery slope, that.
Lab Assistant
Original Poster
#3 Old 10th Apr 2012 at 10:00 PM
Yes, the sperm was taken when he was alive, presumably after he found out he had meningitis. There is more information here, so if you are needing more information it is all there. I just copied and pasted the first paragraph.

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Mad Poster
#4 Old 10th Apr 2012 at 10:05 PM
I don't see why she had to fight in court for this right. I mean, an anonymous donor could pass away and no one would know and no one would ask any question if he agrees to father children since he gave his implicit agreement when he decided to preserve his sperm for an anonymous donation. If someone does this for personal use the same implicit agreement to father children is there. The lady was his legal wife and inherited his estate including his money bank acount and sperm bank account and as long as no other woman claimed right to have the guy's children it's only fair to assume his wife was the intended beneficiary.

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Mad Poster
#5 Old 10th Apr 2012 at 11:49 PM
I don't know whether you are English or not but the Diane Blood case was. There was a lot of sympathy for her here at the time (and still is as far as I know). She'd been through a horrible experience and lost her husband and then found out that she was not pregnant as she thought she was. He died of, I think it was meningitus and, while he was in a coma, Mrs Blood asked the doctors to take a sample of his sperm. This was on the grounds that they had been married for four years, had a back-history of a relationship that was much longer than that, and that they both wanted children and were actively trying to generate a pregnancy at the time of his death. I don't think anyone didn't sympathise with her situation - as I said horrible.

The issue with the case, as far as I remember it, was the one of consent. Obviously, the husband was in no condition to give consent. Diane Blood eventually successfully argued (there were several court cases) that her husband had given oral consent to have his sperm preserved for her should something like this ever happen. Of course, this was not written consent and that was the sticking point in the court cases - there was no proof that he had ever given consent. While I think that the right conclusion to that case was the one that was reached (she now has two sons), the issue of consent is a serious one and I think it was right that that was tested in a Court of Law (which is the way the the limits of the law are established in the UK - I'm pretty sure it's the same in the States). If it had been allowed to go ahead just on her and her doctor's say so, it would have established a practice that shouldn't actually be allowed. A dead person cannot given consent, obviously, and it should never be presumed that they would give it, I think. It's a tricky one that. However, despite the difficulties of the case for Diane Blood, I do think the right course of action was pursued - it needed to be tested - and the right conclusion was eventually reached.

Other issues might be things like the right of the child to a father and a family life but I think those are less important issues, not least because there are plenty of children brought up in the world with only one parent and most do just fine.

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Instructor
#6 Old 11th Apr 2012 at 5:42 AM
Assuming the hubbie gave consent- I have no ethical issue.

Wife says hubbie gave conent- but no contrary evidence- I have no issue with it. Hubbie is dead. Wife is alive. The needs of the living outweigh the dead rights for me. If there is some arguement he didn't want it to happen- then maybe. But no evidence con, then why not? He's dead.

Hubbie was an organ donor? Consent given.
Mad Poster
#7 Old 11th Apr 2012 at 12:12 PM
Well perhaps but the point is the husband, at the time the sperm was taken, wasn't dead of course (because if he was, the sperm would also be dead). The problem with taking the sperm while he was in a coma without consent is that, technically, this comprises sexual abuse. And this is why it shouldn't be generally allowed. As I said, I think in this particular case, the right conclusion was reached but it was also important to define exactly why that conclusion was reached in the courts.

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Instructor
#8 Old 11th Apr 2012 at 6:42 PM
I'm not sure I would consider this sexual abuse, personally, unless there is some indiciation that the man didn't want the procedure to occur. I think it is important to be aware of the potential of exploitation but to me, this seems more of a medical procedure than sexually abusive.
Mad Poster
#9 Old 11th Apr 2012 at 10:57 PM
mmmm - I think we might be talking at cross-purposes to a certain extent. You, it seems to me, are really only thinking of this one case but the court case was about the broader implications of this procedure (which is what my posts are about and what I understand the OP was asking about). Remember no consent had been explicitly given (in the sense that it could be proved). Now think of perhaps a different case where consent has not been obtained, you have a patient in a coma and someone, even someone close to that person - a partner perhaps, decides they want his sperm (or eggs) because they want a child. They might swear blind that the person in the coma agreed to have their gametes taken and used to create a child and that their claim is valid based on the closeness of their relationship but how do you (or anyone else) know? No-one really thinks that this is what Diane Blood did but you must see that this is a situation in which abuse is a possibility. The sexual abuse part stems - tentatively, I agree - from the illegality of committing sexual acts on a person who is incapable of giving consent. I'm not saying you're wrong but there are multiple legal and moral concerns with the case.

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Instructor
#10 Old 11th Apr 2012 at 11:59 PM
I can see the broader implications of the issue, but at the same time, I'm not sure how widespread this issue will actually be that rules and regs need to be developed to cover it. I'm actually kind of opposed to too much excessive law. I felt the OP Was asking specifically about this case, so this is what I addressed. =-)
Forum Resident
#11 Old 13th Apr 2012 at 9:19 PM
I'm not even going to read the OP but just from the title, I've seen women do this before. As long as the deceased has never objected to ever having a child and better if they encouraged the idea of this happening, I see nothing wrong with it. I remember watching an ep of Bringing Home Multiples and a woman who's husband had died (maybe like a year ago or more) had some of his sperm frozen and she ended up having triplets. His family as well as hers was there for the delivery and really thought it was a miracle as their son was living on through his children. But like I said, if the deceased had no prior objection to being a parent then it's fine, but when it becomes something like a woman trying to impregnate herself to gain something from it, (i.e money, house, etc) then it's time to draw the line. If this issue ever becomes popular then men will have to start putting it in their wills, tripled underlined, in bold print, about their objection towards this happening.

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Inventor
#12 Old 14th Apr 2012 at 4:35 AM
Why she had to fight in court for the right just baffles me. He gave his sperm with consent, and TBH, deceased people don't care much for anything once they are dead and buried. Isn't this what the human race, and every race and species for that matter, is destined to do? Continue on through generations?
Alchemist
#13 Old 15th Apr 2012 at 2:30 AM
the fact that they had been trying for children pre-coma kind of speaks of consent for me, guys.

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