February 22, 2024

UK judge refuses request for posthumous sperm retrieval

With few laws regulating it, judges often grant permission to grieving partners or parents to retrieve sperm from young men who have died unexpectedly. But in the latest incident, the parents of a dying man in England failed to convince a judge in the Court of Protection.

X (the names were withheld in the judgement) was a 22-year-old university student. He was the only son of Chinese parents who spoke little English. He suffered a stroke while playing sport and was brain stem dead at the time the judge reviewed the case. (He died shortly after.)

His parents were devastated and petitioned the court for permission to retrieve his sperm. They stated that he had wanted to have children. They said that his girlfriend could carry the baby and they would take responsibility for raising it. The father told the court.

“I make it clear to the court that my wife and I would raise the child, but the girlfriend, who is aware of this application, has expressed a desire to carry his child. I appreciate that we cannot speak for her, and the court has no evidence from her, but it seems right that we make the court aware of this and that in any event, what we are clear about, is that our son has always wanted a family and we would wish very much to fulfil that wish in any event.”

Nonetheless, Mr Justice Poole ruled that it would not be in X’s “best interests” to have an invasive procedure performed upon him to which he could not consent.

“There is no evidence before the court to persuade me that (he) would have wished for his sperm to be collected and stored in his present circumstances. I cannot accept that there should be a default position that sperm should be collected and stored in such circumstances as being generally in a person’s best interests.”