The parents of a British man who died in an accident five years ago extracted his sperm after he suffered massive brain damage. The aim was to store it to later have a grandson through gestational surrogacy.
Today, the couple has a three-year-old grandson born using this procedure. Bypassing UK fertility laws, the sperm was extracted and exported to the US, as the dead man’s mother said: “it’s what her son would have wanted”. There are, however, some legal concerns over the procedure used, as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 states that consent signed by the individual is needed to store and use their sperm. However, the “Mental Capacity Act 2005” empowered the courts to decide fora person who had lost their capacity to decide because they were unconscious.
Astonishingly, the doctor said he understood the couple’s son – who was unmarried – had not given formal consent to the extraction and use of his sperm in the event of his death.
Legal experts have confirmed that this means those involved in the UK may have committed a criminal act and could face prosecution.
Both egg donor and surrogate were American. Four embryos were created, one was selected and the couple were present for the birth in the US in 2015.
The procedure – including payments to the egg donor, surrogate and hospital fees – is thought to have cost £60,000-£100,000.
The couple returned to the UK after official paperwork naming them as the child’s legal parents was complete.
In our opinion, behind the happy birth of this baby are a series of ethical difficulties that underlie it. First of all, the ethical difficulties presented by the assisted reproduction techniques used to conceive the baby.
In addition, another of the ethical drawbacks of this case is that, to gestate the baby, the couple resorted to using donor eggs and a surrogate mother, a practice with multiple objections that we have already discussed on previous occasions (see HERE ).
A “designer grandson” to complete the task
Dr Smotrich said the couple were ‘very specific’ about the ‘type and calibre’ of egg donor and surrogate; insisting on someone who matched the kind of woman they believed their son would have married in terms of physical looks, intellect and education.
Finally, the attitude of these grandparents-parents is remarkable, having put their personal desires to have a son-grandson before the good of the child, which means objectifying their grandson.