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Discussion of Posthumous Reproduction

The issue of posthumous reproduction is controversial and oftentimes meets double-sided ethical and legal questions. In the case study, Mary, a wife of a diseased man expresses the will to harvest her husband’s sperm. The first difficulty with sperm usage is the legal ambiguity as the United States do not have a law directly addressing mutually the person’s retrieval and his or her gametes usage. According to the Uniform Probate Code, it is essential to have the deceased’s consent to posthumous reproduction in written form or in the other form that provides clear evidence (Simana, 2018). Generally, the current law provides indirect restrictions on posthumous reproduction, and most of the time the bioethical committee of the hospital initiates the court case.

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The was no evidence of consent signed by the deceased husband from the case; moreover, his wife agrees that he had no will of having more children when was alive. The absence of consent and the knowledge of man’s wish controverts with the paramount of the essential ethical principles, the respect for autonomy and non-maleficence. The latter refers to the action minimizing harm respecting the person’s most possible wish when he was alive.

According to the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act (UAGA), the retrieved person possesses the organs and tissues after death (Simana, 2018). Moreover, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, parents cannot keep the organs and tissues of their deceased children as it also breaks the ethical principle of authority (Simana, 2018). The widow might get rights to the usage of gametes in the interests of genetic continuation; however, she already has one child from her husband, and the court can refuse this request. Another ethical issue, beneficence, is considered in connection with a resulted child as his or her rights should be also respected. It is hard to judge what goals the widow has, and if she wants more children because of missing her husband, it might be considered as wishing a child in personal needs. Herein, a widow might lack the financial means to maintain a child, provide him or her with proper attention, education, and health care.

The rights of the existing child are the most complicated issues as the daughter the couple already has is underaged and cannot express her opinion. Trying to highlight some negative outcomes for the daughter if the new child comes to the family, the lack of various recourses might be an issue. A wider distribution of all the human and financial means might take away from the existing child attention and care. Some might claim that here the justice principle is faced as the child has a right to receive responsiveness from her family members. Nevertheless, it is hard to estimate the number of positive emotions the newborn can bring to the whole family and the daughter. Learning how to take care of another one can develop decent qualities and unite the family.

Thus, the issue of posthumous reproductivity is complicated and double-sensed. Various ethical principles are fighting between each other depending on what side of the occasion is disclosed. The lack of legal regulation also obscures the situations regarding sperm usage. In this case study, the widow has the right to ask the court to use the gametes; however, without the deceased’s consent to posthumous reproduction in written form and the absence of will to enlarge family before death might lead to a negative decision of the court.


Simana, S. (2018). Creating life after death: Should posthumous reproduction be legally permissible without the deceased’s prior consent? Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 5(2), 329–354.

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