It should be illegal to use the sperm of a dead spouse without specific consent.

In a groundbreaking decision, a widow from Twickenham has won the right to have her dead husband's child, even though he never gave his consent. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has given her permission to use sperm taken from her spouse just hours after he died during routine surgery. The 42-year-old woman must now travel to America for fertility treatment, as it is illegal to use sperm without written permission from the donor in the UK. Should dead people really be sperm donors?!

It should be illegal to use the sperm of a dead spouse without specific consent.

Yes because... No because...

Psychologically harmful to the children.

Regardless of what our right's based society thinks, children brought up in single parent families suffer from a host of different afflictions. Why allow bring a child onto this earth knowing it will be brought up in such circumstances? Various studies have shown us the inflictions that not having a father has. Children are more likely to have trouble at school, more likely to run away from home and are more likely to suffer from physical, emotional or sexual abuse (1). This is regardless of the mother's financial circumstances, which will no doubt be under threat with only one parent's income.

(1)http://www.civitas.org.uk/pubs/experiments.php

I would agree that the loss of a parent would be psychologically harmful but not necessarily if this loss was before the child in question was even conceived. It would be more psychologically damaging to a child if the father had simply left later in life. Then the child will wonder what is wrong with them? Were they not loved/ wanted? The fact that the father wanted to give his wife this child, even if he couldn't see it, means this child was wanted more than anything no matter what.

Children from single parent families, no matter what the financial circumstances, can actually be more driven to succeed and stay out of trouble more than the other way around. Why cause the extra stress to their parent who is working hard to provide for them the same as two parents would provide for them? As a child of a single parent myself I helped out, I did well in school and I'm about to qualify as a lawyer- the complete opposite of the stereotypical criminal some believe a child raised by one parent will become.

As for physical, emotional and sexual abuse?? If the mother went to such lengths to go through the courts to fight for her dead spouse's sperm, then this child was conceived out of pure love and no doubt raised that way too. The only abuse they would encounter would be from perhaps their mothers future partners later in life. The child's early years will be as happy and healthy as anyone raised by two parents.

It should be legal to use the sperm of a dead spouse even without consent. It is not psychologically harmful to a child to grow up with only one parent. It can be presumed that when the couple got married they discussed their future and children. They were intended from the start. Accidents happen that can break families but I do not believe they should be completely ruined. I believe perhaps one way to overcome this issue would be simply for the father to possibly write his consent to use his frozen sperm in his will. How else could he give consent if nobody will listen to his wife? If she wants to have a baby with the one she loves it is not for anyone to get in the way of that. Single parents should not be prejudiced just for being alone. They can often provide a better start to life than most two parent families.

It should be illegal to use the sperm of a dead spouse without specific consent.

Yes because... No because...

Psychologically harmful to the mother.

Having a child is supposed to be the product of a loving relationship, not an attempt to keep part of the relationship alive despite the death of the father. Bereavement causes depression and a whole host of emotional traumas and anxiety. Add to this mix of poor emotional health, a child and you create an emotional overload. Trying to deal with the emotional strain of bereavement needs to be done separately from having a child. It is often quoted that having a child will not fix a broken relationship; having a child will not ease the process of bereavement seems analogous to that.

It should be illegal to use the sperm of a dead spouse without specific consent.

Yes because... No because...

Expense of unruly children on society.

Having a child to a dead spouse is not only harmful to the child, but also harmful to society. Children in single parent families are more likely to offend the law, more likely to be unemployed as adults and more likely to become teenage parents (1). All of this adds up on the bill that society has to pay, and for what justification? A single persons happiness? And as established above, the mother once she has the child will be likely to suffer from an emotional overload. So there is no justification for such a heinous and selfish act to be made legal.
(1)http://www.civitas.org.uk/pubs/experiments.php

And what about the bill society has to pay for couples that have many children and live off the government?? or criminals/ junkies etc who have children? or the many children given up for adoption and bounced about the foster system? Surely these are the children stereotypically seen as the ones who will act out. Of course there are always many exceptions but the majority grow up lost and confused and possibly turn to the wrong crowd, drugs, violence etc

A child of a single parent is likely to succeed, especially when the parent will most likely only have this one child due to the loss of their partner. The parent will therefore look after the child, provide the best they can and, even if the financial circumstances do not permit it, they will at least instil the motivation and drive to be better than what people expect of them. They are very unlikely to break the law or be unemployed because of the fact only one person raised them.

As for becoming a teenage parent, the number of teenage parents compared to the number of people raised by one parent is actually quite small. Children of two parents are equally as likely to become teenage parents. Accidents happen and/ or perhaps the child was planned even when the parent was at a young age themselves. However, this does not necessarily mean the bill falls with the government. Perhaps the teenage father wanted this baby and the couple will raise it together? And, even if the father later elects not to be involved, the mother has the strong bond and shining example set down by their mother. She will support her child no matter what mistakes in judgement they make.

Therefore, it is not the children of single parent that should be discriminated against. Everyone has the right to a family. Why should that right be hindered by the fact that they are alone?It is no way selfish or heinous. Society has much larger problems to pay for and worry about. Unemployment due to the recession? Pressures on the NHS? Crime rate? The list goes on

It should be illegal to use the sperm of a dead spouse without specific consent.

Yes because... No because...

Souvenir baby craze.

Perhaps in a few instances, like the recent case of a mother who had thoroughly reflected on the matter (1), there should be some discretion available to the courts to allow the sperm extracting from a dead partner to conceive their child. However, to make this open to general application and legal renders a whole host of new problems. Having your dead partner's baby would become a form of martyrdom, a fashion accessory. In the recent case, the mother had thought about and thoroughly and felt so strongly about it that she sought a remedy through the courts. However, to make such a process legal would mean that people would not think so carefully, they would be able to be more flippant. The law should remain as it is.

(1) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1133525/Widow-wins-legal-battle-dead-husbands-child.html

I find it hard to believe that anyone deciding to use the sperm of a dead loved one would do so 'flippantly'. the use of this term also implies that the use of a dead perosn sperm would not be tightly regulated, which again I would find highly unlikely.

It should be illegal to use the sperm of a dead spouse without specific consent.

Yes because... No because...

Freedom to private and family life

The European Convention of Human Rights, implemented by the Human Roghts Act 1998 grants each and every individual in this country a right to a family life. We cannot stop all potential fathers from dying. However, what we can do is allow women to choose whether they have their dead partner's baby or not. The father's opinion on the matter is of little consequence. We allow women fertility treatment, we allow women the choice of an abortion, we should also allow women the right to choose who is in their family.

It should be illegal to use the sperm of a dead spouse without specific consent.

Yes because... No because...

Why give choice at death which is not available in life

This is essentially a question of is the father's specific consent needed. But a father does not have that choice available to him when he is alive, so why should he be granted a choice upon death? When a woman gets pregnant, the biological father has no choice, it is all decided by the mother. Yes, a mother would be wise to consult the father, but she is under no obligation to do so. It seems illogical that a father has more choice when he dies than when he is alive. One of the rules has to change, either give the father the choice when he is alive, or do not give weight to his choice when he is dead. I suspect most people would see the latter option more just.

It should be illegal to use the sperm of a dead spouse without specific consent.

Yes because... No because...

Father's plan in life was to have a baby

Whilst there is proof the father gave consent during his lifetime to have a child, there is no proof that he would have consented to is sperm being used after his death. Being alive and wanting a child is very different from giving consent to your wife to have children once you die. Presumably a father would consider having a child thinking that they would be alive to support their child and discipline them appropriately. Once he is dead, he is no longer available to give the child or the mother the support that he would have wanted to give in life. People's moral opinions change depending on circumstances. The spouse, in the case decided recently, may not have wanted his children to grow up without a father. He may have fundamentally disagreed with it. His consent to such a procedure occurring after his death cannot be implied from his consent to have a child in his life time.

The ground breaking case, mentioned above, was decided in a court of law. "The judge allowed the sperm to be retrieved after hearing that the couple had visited a fertility expert the previous week with the intention of having a child" (1). What influenced the judges decision was the fact that the spouse gave consent during his life time. There was proof of this intent, although not written, it was implied in his conduct. The father did not choose to die, so there is a case to argue not for specific intent, but implied consent. From the circumstances, the judge concluded that as the father consented to trying for a baby, yet he did not consent to die, his intention would still remain to have the child. This is the only consent that should be needed at law.

(1) http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-1133525/Widow-wins-legal-battle-dead-husbands-child.html

It should be illegal to use the sperm of a dead spouse without specific consent.

Yes because... No because...

If the sperm was from an anonymous sperm donor would this conversation be relevant?

Anonymouse sperm donors have given their consent for their sperm to be used, there is no such consent in the case of a dead spouse. Furthermore, the assumption that spouses want children is both logically and practically false, marriage is between two people and there is nothing in the process of marriage itself that compels, nor obliges, couples to thereafter have children.

In the case described in the introduction, the fact the couple were both 40+ and childless suggests the husband was quite happy without a child.

If the sperm was from an anonymous sperm donor would this conversation be relevant? If not why should it be so when the mother knew the donor, at least there is some presumption that the father would have wanted children with the mother.

Debates > It should be illegal to use the sperm of a dead spouse without specific consent.