The Atlantic ran a story on February 26, 2019, titled “Grieving Parents Are Turning to Posthumous IVF: Is preserving a Jewish bloodline worth creating a child who will never know her father?” This served as my first introduction to this practice.
The article uses a unique case in Israel where a man became a father seven years after his death.
As I have since learned, posthumous IVF has become a growing trend in the Western world. That said, this practice has been around since at least 1980.
POSTHUMOUS IVF IS “A THING” NOW
What is posthumous IVF? It is the creation of human life via in vitro fertilization, using the gametes (sperm or eggs) of a deceased person. Sometimes the gametes are extracted prior to death, but it is not uncommon for the extraction of gametes to occur following death! So long as a woman is willing to be implanted in the future, the DNA of the deceased can be passed down years or generations later.
The article by The Atlantic discusses this trend in the country of Israel. Apparently Israel has the highest usage of IVF per capita in the world. In fact, the national government of Israel funds the IVF industry there, and thus regulates who may access it. “Currently, all women up to the age of 45 are eligible for unlimited funds for up to two babies, and for procedures using genetic material from deceased spouses,” reports Shira Rubin of the Undark magazine, where this article originally was published.
Israelis are more commonly producing “Biological Wills,” and these written—or verbal, or “presumed”—documents are creating legal precedent within the country. These documents outline the wishes of the deceased as to how their frozen gametes are supposed to be handled following the death of those who file these Biological Wills.
The author of the article explains the country-wide acceptance and even enthusiasm for posthumous IVF: “In Israel, IVF is one of the rare issues supported by nearly all sectors, regardless of religion or sexuality, in an infamously divided society… Like many Jewish Israelis, Pozniansky (a woman featured in the article) sees reproduction as a way to replenish the numbers of the Jewish people, in the wake of the Holocaust and millennia of Jewish suffering.”
The article claims sperm remain viable for up to 36 hours after death, and in some cases up to 72 hours. Doctors can extract the sperm using needles, biopsies, or electric stimulation to induce an ejaculation. The sperm are then frozen until they are ready to be used to create new human life in a Petri dish at a later date.
ETHICAL CONCERNS OVER POSTHUMOUS IVF
The Atlantic article highlights ethical concerns over this practice. The author writes, “Israeli courts have failed to coherently answer the question posed by Ruth Landau, a social-work expert from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: Is it ethical to create a child as ‘the means for fulfilling the wishes of an adult, in any way possible, and at any cost?’ Because the right to posthumous reproduction is not a given for the deceased’s parents, their requests, in particular, have challenged the courts with esoteric questions regarding the rights of an unborn child” (emphasis added).
Another concern raised, “Joseph Schenker, the president of the International Academy of Human Reproduction… asserted that ‘planned orphanhood’ threatened to create an identity crisis in the future child. The problem, he said, is that society does not know how such a child ‘will feel to know that he is not an individual, but a copy of someone else’—what Israeli judges in the past have called a ‘living monument to the dead’” (emphasis added).
The article concludes by stating the posthumous IVF is likely to grow in popularity and acceptance. Some European countries have already banned it, but others are allowing it.
MY TWO CENTS
Just for the record, posthumous IVF should be a clear case of a practice that ought to be banned as immoral and unethical for violating the Natural Law.
Nature did not intend for children never have the opportunity to know their fathers, because the fathers died years before they were born.
Nature did not intend for women to bear children in their wombs who biologically belong to men they never had conjugal relations with.
Nature never intended for third parties to be intervening in the fertilization of new human life.
The natural process for new human life to enter this world does not involve laboratories, lab coats, Petri dishes, nor cryogenic freezing.
The natural process by which new human life should come into this world involves the loving embrace of a husband with his wife, not the electrical stimulation of his genitals following his death, so as to induce an erection.
The Natural Law is clearly debased, when 24 human beings have to die in order for the 25th human being to survive till birth, as I heard the stats are these days for IVF.
Please, can we just call it quits on this madness?
What do you make of posthumous IVF? Please leave your thoughts below.