Posthumous Sperm Procurement: The Critical Condition of Autonomous Consent
Kayte Spector-Bagdady, Posthumous Sperm Procurement: The Critical Condition of Autonomous Consent, 1 RUTGERS J. BIOETHICS, Fall 2009, at 18.
9 Pages Posted: 26 Nov 2013 Last revised: 23 Mar 2014
Date Written: May 29, 2009
Even though during Posthumous Sperm Procurement (PSP) the patient has passed away, the decedent still has an interest in informed consent. With increasing requests for PSP by surviving loved ones, institutions struggle how to honor both the interests of the decedent and requests of the living -- sometimes with inconsistent results.
This Article argues that institutions should adopt the policy that informed consent to PSP require that the decedent would have consented to PSP with a particular partner and intended parent specifically, not the vague sentiment that the decedent wanted children in the future. This policy clarifies ethically complex situations such as whether parents of a single male should be allowed to inseminate a surrogate to create a child to raise themselves, whether an unmarried couple should have access to PSP (and the common but flawed assumption that marriage is the same as consent to reproduction), and whether clinicians have the ethical duty to tell the family that PSP is possible in the first place.
In addition, because the partner and intended parent(s) will so often be the patient’s close family members, they are inadequate surrogate decision makers in the case of PSP. While close family may be the only consent available for the time-sensitive sperm procurement, an advanced directive or a neutral third party must be produced who can give credence to the autonomous consent of the decedent to PSP.
The goal of the proposed PSP protocol is to protect both the reproductive interests of the decedent as well as provide objective consistency for institutional implementation.
Keywords: assisted reproduction, posthumous reproduction, posthumous sperm procurement
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