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And to Mom, I leave my sperm
January 27, 2007 7:30 AM   Subscribe

“Then it came to me — ‘Your sperm, that’s what you want me to take from you’. Right there, I asked the officers who came to visit to make sure his sperm be kept.” 20-year old Keivin Cohen, an Israeli soldier, was killed in the Gaza Strip in 2002. His parents, claiming his wish was to one day have children, had his sperm extracted from his dead body to inseminate in a female volunteer. This week, an Israeli court finally ruled that the parents have the right to do this, and a 25-year old woman Cohen never met will be impregnated five years after his death.
posted by XQUZYPHYR (88 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Awkward...
posted by Cyrano at 7:36 AM on January 27, 2007


Not really germane to the story, but I thought I was hearing things when the story mentioned the soldier's first name -- an Israeli named Kevin? What next, a nice Irish Catholic boy named Moishe?

Somewhat more on-topic, it's interesting how putative grandparents get weird about continuation of the line -- I recall my (at the time, pretty deep in her cups) MIL averring while staring at me significantly and somewhat unsettlingly: "I want grandchildren!"
posted by pax digita at 8:20 AM on January 27, 2007


If by this week you mean last week..
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:27 AM on January 27, 2007


Israel is weird in this way. It reason there is so much anxiety is because of what is known as the "demographic threat" - Arabs in Israel proper and occupied territories have a much higher reproductive rate than Jews. Thus there is a lot of pressure to have kids, its almost like a national duty if you are Jewish. Also, at the moment the more religious orthodox Jews, such as those doing the settler thing in the occupied territories, often have huge families like the old farming families used to do in North American while the relatively secular Israelis in the big cities have more normal families by North American urban standards.

Demographics is the future as they say...
posted by bhouston at 8:33 AM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


... it's my dick in a box!
posted by phaedon at 8:36 AM on January 27, 2007 [5 favorites]


Phaedon wins.
posted by Skygazer at 8:38 AM on January 27, 2007


And you thought your parents were embarrassing. Try explaining to your friends that you have had one of those talks with your parents about letting them harvest your sperm from your cold, dead body.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 8:52 AM on January 27, 2007


It reason there is so much anxiety is because of what is known as the "demographic threat" - Arabs in Israel proper and occupied territories have a much higher reproductive rate than Jews.

C'mon bhouston. Don't take what is obviously a very personal thing and paint it with national colors. The parents weren't arguing demographics, it was a personal matter of carrying our their son's wishes.

That being said, I feel sorry for any kid being born in this way and under these circumstances. It's just plain wrong.
posted by three blind mice at 9:18 AM on January 27, 2007


Every sperm is wanted, every sperm is good ...

I'm fine with the principle of posthumous IVF, and can bring a lot of comfort, as long as the wishes of all are clear. It seems kind of creepy that in this case it is all based on interpretations of what other people think Kevin might/should have wanted. I'm pretty sure that granny will want to be, uhm, involved in the kid's upbringing. As three blind mice said, the kid could have a lot of issues with this later on.
posted by carter at 9:28 AM on January 27, 2007


Curiously, "I want grandchildren!" is basically the central theme of most of the Bible.
posted by Anything at 9:33 AM on January 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


I don't think it was an issue of cultural preservation (though given the Middle East conflict I could understand that theory) but a much bigger issue of a parent in denial. The mother seems to have snapped at her son dying and in a very crazy manner believes this is somehow going to keep part of him alive in some way. I think there's a part of her that thinks she's somehow going to "get her son back" by doing this.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 9:34 AM on January 27, 2007


I'm OK with this. What an interestingly rational, bold and interventionist way to "memorialize" someone. One has to admit it's more effective than getting misty-eyed, saying "we'll always carry a bit of him in our hearts," and dumping his carcass in a hole in the ground.

The mother seems to have snapped at her son dying and in a very crazy manner believes this is somehow going to keep part of him alive in some way. I think there's a part of her that thinks she's somehow going to "get her son back" by doing this.

Genetically, she is going to get around half of her son back. That's inarguable.
posted by killdevil at 9:55 AM on January 27, 2007


Is she a virgin? Because if she is...Immaculate Conception!
posted by mongonikol at 9:59 AM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


The only major issue with the parents' approach is that it's creepy; i.e. it completely violates societal norms and expectations regarding "respectful" treatment of the dead.
posted by killdevil at 10:00 AM on January 27, 2007


RE harvesting my sperm when I'm, gone:

1. It's kind of an ugly violation, even if it was my Mom that did it. Especially if it was my Mom that did it.

2. Of course, I'm not gonna need them anymore...
posted by darkstar at 10:09 AM on January 27, 2007


The kid doesn't care, because he's dead and so just a big pile of biohazard waste. Even if he would think it's a terrible thing to do if he were alive, he's not, and so he's very hard to offend.

The only reasons not to do this are that it's sort of a waste of medical resources, and that the deceased's family might find it creepy to have to run into their dead relative's children from time to time. If they're okay with it and the medical resources are otherwise going spare, so what?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:10 AM on January 27, 2007


"Then it came to me..."
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:15 AM on January 27, 2007


Funny, he doesn't look Jewish.
posted by four panels at 10:25 AM on January 27, 2007


What some people won't do to get grandkids.
posted by caddis at 10:32 AM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


ROU_Xenophobe,

I hope you choose a very trustworthy person to be executor of your will.

"What? ROU_Xenophone wanted to give the money from the sale of the Beverly Hills mansion to the United Way? Screw that. He's just a big pile of biohazard waste, so I can't imagine I'd offend him by keeping it for myself. Besides, the United Way is one of the most inefficient charities out there; giving the money to them would sort of be a waste of resources. If his family's okay with my keeping the money, what's the big deal?"
posted by saslett at 10:35 AM on January 27, 2007


three blind mice wrote: "C'mon bhouston. Don't take what is obviously a very personal thing and paint it with national colors. The parents weren't arguing demographics, it was a personal matter of carrying our their son's wishes."

You are probably right. It was insensitive of me.
posted by bhouston at 10:37 AM on January 27, 2007


Hey tbm, bhoust: the two aren't mutually exclusive ..one for the demographic bomb, one for respecting wishes.
posted by elpapacito at 10:44 AM on January 27, 2007


I cant imagine how the Saudi newspapers are going to spin this. Zombie jew on the loose? Between this and the obligatory sacrificing of muslim and christian children during passover it looks like ADF has its work cut out for it.
posted by damn dirty ape at 10:52 AM on January 27, 2007


Curiously, "I want grandchildren!" is basically the central theme of most of the Bible.

I thought the basic theme of the bible was "worship me or I'll kill you."

Even if he would think it's a terrible thing to do if he were alive, he's not, and so he's very hard to offend.

Now see, that's what I thought when I kept my Aunt Gertrudes head and made it into a bong. But everybody got all in my face. Go figure.
posted by tkchrist at 10:56 AM on January 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


This really is wrong--if he had been married to her, or in love with her and had discussed it...did his family strongarm her to do this?
posted by amberglow at 11:16 AM on January 27, 2007


Somehow I don't think your son wanting a kid meant that he wanted one he'd never meet who'd be raised by someone he never met.

Bringing another kid into the world simply to "memorialize" someone else (to use another commenter's word) seems incredibly selfish. If you really want another baby, why not adopt? There are plenty of kids already born who could use the help.
posted by notmydesk at 11:26 AM on January 27, 2007


The implications of this are interesting: will the military evantually owe families a replacement kid for every one killed in combat?
posted by fshgrl at 11:34 AM on January 27, 2007


more implications: Can these grandparents exert rights if the mother wants to marry or emigrate elsewhere? Can they sue to get custody at any point? Can they force the woman to give visitation rights, even if they fall out?

What is their status, given that she's a single woman raising her own child, and not really their grandchild?
posted by amberglow at 11:54 AM on January 27, 2007


"What? ROU_Xenophone wanted to give the money from the sale of the Beverly Hills mansion to the United Way? Screw that. He's just a big pile of biohazard waste, so I can't imagine I'd offend him by keeping it for myself.

Pretty much. I assure you that whatever my executor does with what had been my stuff, I won't give the slightest damn, because I'll be rotting in a grave, far beyond any offense that anyone could conceivably offer.

Give my money to causes I hate, and I won't care. Keep it for yourself and I'll still be just as dead. Dig up my corpse, sodomize it repeatedly, and feed it to pigs and I will not care. The only thing that might matter would be how my family felt, and if they were okay with it, then so what indeed.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:02 PM on January 27, 2007


"Hey honey? Who bought these salty popsicles in the freezer?"
posted by ColdChef at 12:10 PM on January 27, 2007


Dig up my corpse, sodomize it repeatedly, and feed it to pigs and I will not care.

YES!. HE SAID IT!

I will require your signature on that.
posted by tkchrist at 12:11 PM on January 27, 2007


Macabre and selfish. Surely they could have adopted a child.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:20 PM on January 27, 2007


Had the son expressly said "Over my dead body!" I may feel differently else I agree with killdevil: "an interestingly rational, bold and interventionist way to "memorialize" her son", posthumous sperm donation.

These sorts of cases drive home the need for biological wills.
posted by de at 12:30 PM on January 27, 2007


And 20 years from now, out-of-their-head grieving parents somewhere will be cloning little Johnny instead.

Give my money to causes I hate, and I won't care.

Well that's not a terribly profound statement. Stop up my mouth and I won't be able to scream. This isn't about offence, but about respect. Respect for the wishes of the dead. A family that twists the memory of a dead child to suit their own needs observes no honour whatsoever.

On preview: if this is about violating norms, than include in that violation of language and human nature, because the next time I say "I think maybe I want kids" I DON'T expect sperm to be extracted from my sleeping, dead, or otherwise unwilling body to produce some biological end-goal completely removed from my actual life.
posted by dreamsign at 12:35 PM on January 27, 2007


I think this comes down to one simple issue: Did he fill out an organ donor card?
posted by Count at 12:36 PM on January 27, 2007


Give my money to causes I hate, and I won't care. Keep it for yourself and I'll still be just as dead. Dig up my corpse, sodomize it repeatedly, and feed it to pigs and I will not care.
Yup--anything but Soylent Green, pretty much. I wanna be incinerated and thrown out with the garbage--i won't be there.

I think if you have a living will, you can now add this to it, if you're worried about people taking your sperm.
posted by amberglow at 12:39 PM on January 27, 2007


Once a child is dead, the parenthood and custody has effectively stopped, especially if the kid was of age. I really can't believe a court allowed this.
posted by amberglow at 12:43 PM on January 27, 2007


(and it's like the worst, nightmarish, overbearing Jewish mother joke ever--ugh!)
posted by amberglow at 12:44 PM on January 27, 2007


not quite, ag -- what if the boy/goy had been adopted and never quite converted if you know what I mean.
posted by dreamsign at 12:53 PM on January 27, 2007


This isn't about offence, but about respect. Respect for the wishes of the dead. A family that twists the memory of a dead child to suit their own needs observes no honour whatsoever.

Okay, but so what? I agree that it's sort of tasteless and weird, but lots of tasteless things are legal, and weird isn't synonymous with illegal or wrong.

I mean, who are they harming? If the only answer is "Their dead kid," then so what? The dead don't have any interests or welfare.

Frankly, I find the idea that the living, who actually do have wants and needs and interests, should be constrained by the recorded dictates of the dead to be faintly immoral. It seems... Pareto-inferior.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:21 PM on January 27, 2007


Slightly off point, but still worth a ponder.
posted by IndigoJones at 1:21 PM on January 27, 2007


Note on my organ donor card:
ALL THESE ORGANS ARE YOURS EXCEPT THE TESTES. ATTEMPT NO EXTRACTIONS THERE.1
posted by blue_beetle at 1:32 PM on January 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I thought the basic theme of the bible was "worship me or I'll kill you."

Well to be accurate, it's "worship me or I'll kill you and all your grandchildren", as well as "those people don't worship me. Kill them, so you can eat all their plums and have lots and lots of grandchildren"
posted by Anything at 1:37 PM on January 27, 2007



Slightly off point, but still worth a ponder.


from there: ...They would have to be prepared to someday meet the people whom they helped create, to answer questions and to deal with a range of erratic emotions from their offspring. I believe I've let go of any resentment about the way I was conceived. I'm playing the cards I've been dealt and trying to make the best of things. But not all donor-conceived people share this mindset. ...
Nor do they have to do any of that. It's their sperm, and their right to sell it or donate it--no one else has any rights to what is or isn't required, really. The only thing i would agree to is forcing them to give those clinics full medical and family histories (still anonymously) so that any disease or whatever can be known, but not identity.


It makes all the difference in the world to willingly give or sell your sperm, i think. It's your property, like women's eggs. No one should be allowed to extract anything from you after death or without consent (unless they have power of attorney or are named as healthcare proxy).
posted by amberglow at 2:16 PM on January 27, 2007


Dig up my corpse, sodomize it repeatedly, and feed it to pigs and I will not care.

Here in Vancouver at the moment, that isn't particularly funny.

Sorry for the derail. If you want to know what I'm talking about, google the name Pickton. Now, please continue.

As a mother myself, I can understand what's driving this desperation to have something of their son back. I won't judge.
posted by jokeefe at 2:31 PM on January 27, 2007


amberglow...presumably they did have that power?

Technically, after death, only the relatives and loved ones of the dead can be hurt/harmed by the treatment of the remains. Burial ceremonies aren't really for the corpses but for the feelings of the survivors.

I think as more of this kind of thing becomes possible, then disposal of bodily remains will have to be spelled out more in wills than it is now. Basically it can't really hurt the dead, but will create a heckuva lotta more work for lawyers.
posted by emjaybee at 2:32 PM on January 27, 2007


i don't know if they really did, emjay--the kid was an adult, and the body was returned to them for burial, not for other reasons. They weren't allowed to chop him up or stick him in the fridge or stuff him or leave him to rot in a bedroom, were they? There are tons and tons of legal restrictions on what you can do with bodies in your custody--let alone the ethical and moral restrictions and taboos.
posted by amberglow at 2:35 PM on January 27, 2007


There's been a lot of problems about organ donation there too, because if you're Orthodox your body has to stay whole, and you can't donate. (I don't know if this family was--i assume not. Israel's laws are heavily influenced by Orthodox law tho)
posted by amberglow at 2:38 PM on January 27, 2007


Whatever happened to consenting adults doing as they please, amberglow?
posted by Krrrlson at 3:52 PM on January 27, 2007


It's their sperm, and their right to sell it or donate it--no one else has any rights to what is or isn't required, really.

How about the child who didn't ask to get conceived? I've sometimes wondered what kind of legal (let along moral) obligation a donor has towards any offspring of his (or even her) genes. If something bad happens to the raising parent, does, or should, the offspring have no recourse to the parent who merely made the deposit? Any lawyers out there knowledgeable on this point?
posted by IndigoJones at 4:45 PM on January 27, 2007


Whatever happened to consenting adults doing as they please, amberglow?

Umm... did you read the article? The adult was dead before he had a chance to consent; the parents had his sperm extracted from his corpse. This is like not filling out an organ donor card and having your parents say "I think he really would have liked giving his body parts away." Only weirder.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:52 PM on January 27, 2007


The adult was dead before he had a chance to consent; the parents had his sperm extracted from his corpse.

In other words, all of the adults who might be affected by the decision consented.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:24 PM on January 27, 2007


Is it really that different from the father using a surrogate mother? How different is the DNA from the child and the parent? Negligible right? If they cloned him I would be a little more creeped out.
posted by geoff. at 6:39 PM on January 27, 2007


In other words, all of the adults who might be affected by the decision consented.

In the same way that there would be adult consent to sell your body to science against the express directions of your will, I guess.

That is, not at all.
posted by darkstar at 7:13 PM on January 27, 2007


In the same way that there would be adult consent to sell your body to science against the express directions of your will, I guess.

THERE WAS NO FUCKING WILL. Read the article.

You know, it's one thing to argue morality the way amberglow has here (and while I disagree with him, I'll at least give him the credit of having a credible argument), but when you make up fake (and ultimately deceptive) analogies to prove a point, I draw a line in the sand.

Fact is, this is a mother in grief and really, what's the worst she's doing here? Replacing her dead son with a grandchild to keep her son's image alive. Yeah, it's weird. But no where does it say that that family strong-armed the woman being inseminated, and there is no legal precedent here (until now). So I fail to see the problem.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:49 PM on January 27, 2007


BTW, I don't remember ever getting a say in whether or not I'd be conceived. At worst, the parents are taking their own genetic material, passed down to their son, and using it one more time. From a scientific view, it's clearly within their right (these genes are theirs, seeing as how they conceived their son). Again, obviously it's weird...and likely not to be repeated often. But what's the real harm? What's the slippery slope argument? How could this possibly endanger society in any way?
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:53 PM on January 27, 2007


I'd sure as hell hate to be the kid that's gonna result of this morbid stunt. Fathered by a dead man, carried by a stranger, raised by wolves. What a shitty backstory to one's life.

Hell, there are plenty of adopted kids who have serious personal identification issues because their living gene-donors are unknown to them. But FFS, at least their parents were alive when they did the dirty deed. Heap on a whole headfuck of having been the result of a dead soldier's dissection and that's gotta at be an order of magitude worse.

This whole story is nasty as hell.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:43 PM on January 27, 2007


In the same way that there would be adult consent to sell your body to science against the express directions of your will, I guess.

Yes, exactly. Every adult with an interest in the matter has consented. Corpses have no interests, cares, or welfare to be concerned with.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:45 PM on January 27, 2007


It's OK guys, ROU_Xenophobe consents to have his corpse hang in the public square with a big dunce cap on its head until all the flesh rots from the bone, because after he, she or it is dead, there will be no need for consent. If you want to cut some pieces off of the corpse and sell them for profit, I don't see why that would be a problem, corpses have no interests, cares or welfare to be concerned with (well, don't go getting all legal and shit on me, just rely on what ROU.... said, I think his comment was assent).
posted by caddis at 9:23 PM on January 27, 2007


Corpse? No thanks. I'll just make his wife into my little S&M slave. After all, if he doesn't know about it, then what does it hurt him? His "interest" is hardly being affected.
posted by dreamsign at 10:03 PM on January 27, 2007


I've ringfenced my own sperm with reliable titanium clips to stop them getting out and causing trouble. Any bastard who goes in after them when I'm dead is going to get cursed for all eternity and haunted BIGTIME, if it turns out I'm wrong about the whole afterlife thing being crap.
posted by flabdablet at 10:06 PM on January 27, 2007


THERE WAS NO FUCKING WILL. Read the article.

You know, it's one thing to argue morality the way amberglow has here (and while I disagree with him, I'll at least give him the credit of having a credible argument), but when you make up fake (and ultimately deceptive) analogies to prove a point, I draw a line in the sand.


Jesus Christ, who pissed in your corn flakes?

A. I read the freaking article.

B. If you can't extract the kernel from my analogy to the argument I'm clearly making, that seems to be your weakness, not mine. But if you must have the wording of the analogy as close to perfect as literately possible before you're able to give it any credence, please allow me to restate it:

In the same way that there would be adult consent to sell your dead body to science without any express directions or request from you to do so, I guess.

There. Now, remove the stick from your ass. Or is that metaphor too obtuse for you?

Who seriously has an explosion of inflamed, line-in-the-sand indignation at the wording of an analogy in an online discussion about complete strangers?
posted by darkstar at 10:10 PM on January 27, 2007


It's OK guys, ROU_Xenophobe consents to have his corpse hang in the public square with a big dunce cap on its head until all the flesh rots from the bone, because after he, she or it is dead, there will be no need for consent.

Well, yeah. What the hell do I care happens to my body when I'm dead? People can do what they want with it. Why is this hard to understand?

Any survivors I had might be annoyed or hurt if you strung me up, so doing so would be mean to them and you should ask them first. But if they're cool with it, go nuts. I suggest that it might be more entertaining to light my corpse on fire and fling it with a trebuchet, or explode it, or use it as bait in hungry-animal race. But whatever you do with it, I won't care at the time.

I'll just make his wife into my little S&M slave.

I'm not sure how to break it to you, dreamsign, but "Because her husband might object to it" is not the main reason to refrain from turning a woman into your S&M slave.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:20 PM on January 27, 2007


Heh...now THERE's a flawed analogy, if folks have any indignation in search of a target. :)
posted by darkstar at 10:45 PM on January 27, 2007


Abstraction, darkstar, abstraction.

If it's all about whether a person will mind, well there's all kinds of unpleasantness that can occur without notice. That makes it ok? (government spying is another one of those, for those with a more contemporary and realistic bent)
posted by dreamsign at 10:51 PM on January 27, 2007


(that is to say unless you're taking the use of the word 'slave' a little too literally -- I'm just talking about boffing the man's wife, folks)
posted by dreamsign at 11:11 PM on January 27, 2007


dreamsign, you do realize that there's a difference between a living person and a dead person, right? You seem to think that dead people do things other than decay or get cremated or buried at sea or whatever. Living people have feelings and opinions and rights (including the right to have their feelings about their dead loved ones respected, not because the dead person cares, but because living people do), dead people are just dead.

And you do consider women people right? In your nasty little scenario, you seem to be focusing solely on what the dead husband might mind (reminder: nothing, he's dead), rather than what the living wife might think about your boffing plot. You might want to get that looked at by a professional.
posted by biscotti at 11:34 PM on January 27, 2007


If it's all about whether a person will mind

It's not. It's about whether a person could conceivably object in any way whatsoever. Dead people can't, because they're dead. Bereft of life, they fuckin' snuffed it, etc. They can no more care about what happens to their corpse than a rock can care about its physical integrity or a steak can care how you cook it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:46 PM on January 27, 2007


Dead husband? No, there are no dead people in my scenario. Forgive me if I did not describe it adequately. I was referring to the commenter's SO, and certainly not wishing the commenter dead!

And again, ROU_X, that's a facile observation. Of course they can't care. But an inability to care is like an inability to know about something -- simply removed from your experience. We have a whole host of social norms and expectations that have nothing to do with whether or not we know about the infraction. The difference there is one of rights -- we do not ascribe rights to the dead, whereas a living person's rights can be violated whether the person is aware of the violation or not. THAT is the difference.

But I was not speaking of rights; I was speaking of respect, which is why I used the word.
posted by dreamsign at 12:37 AM on January 28, 2007


Eh, in any case, I recant. My time online has expired.

Keep the faith! (and burn the corpses; nobody likes zombies)
posted by dreamsign at 12:56 AM on January 28, 2007


ROU_X,

It's true that the dead can't object to anything when they're dead. Others have made that point already. But the reason we allow the dead to have some say in the transfer of their property at death isn't because we inherently care about their wishes but because (1) we want to respect third parties who may have relied on the dead person's intentions and (2) we want to encourage the dead person to use assets efficiently while he is alive.

Forget about the intestate Israeli for a minute. Let's suppose you told an atheist charity you'd give money to them at your death. You provide for that in your will. The charity really looks forward to your millions. Let's say your fundamentalist relatives can't stand the charity. They'd rather blow it on a megachurch. Why, in your universe, should your relatives' say matter more than the intended beneficiary?

Ah, you say, this problem could have been solved by giving to the charity while you were alive. But unless you plan on committing suicide or are really near death, you don't know when you're going to die. You could give your millions to the charity now and still have years left to live. Or you could stagger your payments in small amounts from year to year. But neither of those methods are as efficient as letting your cash earn interest for decades until you die. (The same is true for any other property, like real estate or stock, that tends to gain over time.) Wills, which often require respecting the dead person's wishes over their family's, allow people to do that.

You may be interested to know that in 1918 the Bolsheviks abolished succession entirely and required that all property upon death go to the state. There was such an outcry against it that the U.S.S.R. brought back succession four years later. That tells you something about its utility (if not popularity).
posted by saslett at 1:20 AM on January 28, 2007 [1 favorite]


I wonder if there is some machine to extract the sperm from a dead man. Or does some lowly lab tech pick the short straw and had to ugh jerk some out...

::shudders::
posted by Dreamghost at 1:22 AM on January 28, 2007


The sperm, presumably, were not dead. The resulting child (if there is one) will not be a zombie. The donation is neither anonymous nor the deposit of some misogynistic S&M master's antics with an unwilling woman. The backstory is not the nastiest of scenarios by a long shot.

Body parts/tissue are not property. Ownership is difficult to establish. A living or biological will is nothing like the will we write for the distibution of property. No comparison.

The court ruling was not over whether or not the parents (with the help of lowly lab techs) could remove sperm from the son's corpse but over whether the subsequent donation of that tissue respected their son's living will, his wishes. The parents established to a court's satisfaction that their boy was a donor at heart.
posted by de at 2:33 AM on January 28, 2007


Somehow I don't think your son wanting a kid meant that he wanted one he'd never meet who'd be raised by someone he never met.

Bingo.

The people falling on the excuse that "he's dead, he won't care" ignore overall societal concerns here. What the parents did was an act of pure selfishness.

This isn't like Alive or something where it was necessary to eat corpses to survive. There was no necessity for exploiting the dead in this soldier's situation beyond the selfishness of the parents. I refuse to believe they would love an adopted child any more or less than the genetic offspring of their dead son implanted in a complete stranger. Likewise, there was no profit from this- survival, financial gain- no benefits were provided beyond the personal enjoyment of the parents. That's not honoring the dead; that's taking advantage of it. They may as well have had their son stuffed so she can cuddle it every night.

If you continue the pattern of logic that it's alright to do whatever you want to the dead because they won't care and what matters is the living, then what exactly is your objection to murder? ROU, what's the problem if I killed you right now? You wouldn't care one bit, as you'd be dead. Or, if you want to paternal chain to continue, if parents really, really hated their only child, would it be okay to drown it in the bathtub?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 5:53 AM on January 28, 2007


what exactly is your objection to murder? ROU, what's the problem if I killed you right now? You wouldn't care one bit, as you'd be dead.

There's a bit of a difference between taking something from someone who has it (life) and taking something from someone who doesn't have it anymore (already dead.) From a societal standpoint, anyway. You're correct that after you pull the trigger, stick in the knife, or pull the lever on the trebuchet, ROU ain't gonna care. The District Attorney for the city of Washington D.C. might feel differently.

Fathered by a dead man, carried by a stranger, raised by wolves. What a shitty backstory to one's life.

Are you kidding? I'm getting to work on the screenplay.
posted by Cyrano at 8:51 AM on January 28, 2007


Why, in your universe, should your relatives' say matter more than the intended beneficiary?

It shouldn't. The atheist charity has a stake in the outcome and should be considered. My creditors, too. But not because I have any wishes left to respect, but because the actual welfare of living humans is on the line.

On the other hand, if the atheist charity and my fundie family somehow got together and agreed that really it would be better to send my vast horde of lucre (less debts) to Oxfam in complete contravention of my will, okay. All of the relevant living adults agree.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:10 AM on January 28, 2007


At last, it's legal to breed Darwin Award winners, rendering at least the name of the award useless. Also rendering the whole "evolution" thing a lost cause.

And yes, I'm saying every soldier ever killed in a war is a Darwin Award winner. I'm for breeding pacifists.
posted by Eideteker at 9:25 AM on January 28, 2007


What the hell do I care happens to my body when I'm dead? People can do what they want with it. Why is this hard to understand?

No, people won't be able to do whatever they want with your body, there'll be laws to prevent them from doing a lot of the things you mentioned. Why is that so hard to understand?

Oddly enough, the 'well I'll be dead anyway so who cares' concept is not the basis of any laws and related ethical/legal/political debates on the topic of organ donation, biological wills, sperm donation, IVF, parental rights, and handling of corpses, all of which are more or less directly involved in this story, which is what makes it so interesting from that legal/political/ethical debate point of view.

As other already noted, amberglow in particular, there are a lot of potential legal complications, and as five fresh fish noted, there's a truckload of ethical complications as well, for the child that will be born. Repeating 'you can do what you want with my body after I'm dead I don't care' is not a substitute for not being able or willing to grasp all those issues.
posted by pleeker at 9:55 AM on January 28, 2007


Yup--what pleeker said. This is an entire lifetime of new legal, moral, ethical, and custodial issues dumped on a new life, and all the lives involved. It's way beyond just getting sperm out of a corpse with or without their consent.

ROU--if they wanted another kid, they should have used the (presumably living) father's sperm, not the son's, no? Why a grandchild with a surrogate rather than a child with a surrogate? Who performed the psychological investigations on these potential grandparents? Did they? What did they say? Why did the hospital refuse to do it? Why did the parents then go to court and get publicity to gain support to do this, going so far as to advertise for a woman to bear it?

It's not right--for a million varied reasons. There's a life resulting from all this---a life that will be tugged between the only parent he or she really has--the mother--and some strangers who will demand claim to the kid too, maybe court-enforced and fought-for at that. The parents of the soldier need therapy to deal with their loss far more than they ever need to see a grandchild brought into the world without their son even knowing.
posted by amberglow at 11:52 AM on January 28, 2007


It's way beyond just getting sperm out of a corpse with or without their consent.

Sure. But "This is bad because the kid stands a very high chance of being fucked up" is different from "This is bad because it might go against what the dead guy wouldn't have wanted it."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 12:27 PM on January 28, 2007


But both are valid in and of themselves--and i'd say the intended result of the original action connects them inextricably.
posted by amberglow at 1:16 PM on January 28, 2007


Somewhat more on-topic, it's interesting how putative grandparents get weird about continuation of the line

Tell me about it - Christmas 2004, my in-laws send out the holiday e-mail telling everyone in the family that they were afraid that my husband and I had held off for too long and that it would be too late for us to have any children. For my birthday the following year, they sent me an Acoma fertility pot. Subtle...
posted by echolalia67 at 1:33 PM on January 28, 2007


Do you speak to your in-laws any more? 'cause I know I sure as hell woulda eviscerated them for their presumption, and then inaugurated a "Dead To Me" list with their names at the top.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:13 PM on January 28, 2007


Ewww. Strike that, what horrible imagery.

Still, they'd be on the shitlist, fersure.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:24 PM on January 28, 2007


Fathered by a dead man, carried by a stranger, raised by wolves. What a shitty backstory to one's life.

The truly horrible thing is the kid will probably be circumcized.
posted by and hosted from Uranus at 7:03 AM on January 29, 2007


nice way to insult an entire religion uranus
posted by caddis at 7:20 AM on January 29, 2007


Uranus ftw with the Mefi Godwin of circumcision.
posted by Megafly at 11:57 AM on January 29, 2007


nah... this child'll be a girl and in 25 years time no-one'll even remember what sperm was, let alone foreskin. oy vey!
posted by de at 4:07 PM on January 29, 2007


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