Legal and Ethical Aspects of Posthumous Reproduction

Abstract:

Since the beginning of the human era, history has registered birth of the so-called ‘posthumous’ children. Most jurisdictions recognized these children as legal for a certain period of time after their fathers’ death.

The breakthrough of assisted reproductive technologies has led to the development of extraordinary possibilities. Now a child can be born many years following the death of one or both of its biological parents.

‘Posthumous’ programmes are implemented through the usage of the cryopreserved material, often accompanying surrogacy and donation programmes. That is the scenario according to which in 2005 the first Russian ‘posthumous’ reproductive programme was realized for the Zakharovs family, who used the cryopreserved sperm of an unmarried young man who had died nine years before and a donor’s oocytes. The child was carried be a‘gestational’ surrogate mother.

The posthumous reproduction manifests itself as the realization of the human right to reproduction even though after the death and the child’s right to be born. Posthumous sperm collection is carried out by certain countries and has no legal ground, presuming that any human being would like to become a parent.

Today none of the countries in the world have a distinct legal stipulation for the implementation of such programmes, nor have they established the principles of registration of ‘posthumous' children and protection of their legal and property rights.