After Death Sperm Donation

March 5, 2020

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Anchor lead: Should sperm be collected from men after
they’ve died? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Posthumous sperm retrieval, where sperm is collected from a
man after his death, has been underway for decades. Now there’s a movement
afoot in the UK to do so without a man’s permission. Jeffrey Kahn, director of
the Berman Institute of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins, sounds an alarm.

Kahn: This has been an issue for a long time because it’s
technically not terribly difficult to obtain sperm from somebody after he’s
died. I would side with the principle that we should agree and adhere to a
standard where we don’t make men fathers without their permission. That means
if they haven’t said I want to be a sperm donor if they haven’t been specific
about that then the answer should be no, we don’t do that. I think we should
treat posthumous sperm collection like we do organ donation.  :29

Kahn notes that in some countries such as Spain, organs from
people who have died are retrieved unless they specifically opt out of
donation, but here in the US we remain in an opt-in environment, a situation he
doesn’t expect will change anytime soon. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth
Tracey.

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