For the first time the Israeli court has approved the extraction and freezing of a dead woman’s eggs, a ruling that The Telegram reports is the first time in the world the door has been opened for a mother to give birth after her death.
The case centers around 17-year-old Israeli woman. Chen Aida Ayash. She was hit by a car in a tragic accident a couple weeks ago and died after struggling for 10 days. At the time, her family donated all of her organs, but they wanted to keep one thing: her eggs. Why? To eventually make children.
The family originally requested the eggs be fertilized and frozen as embryos (frozen embryos have a greater chance of producing a child), a medical source familiar with the case told Ha’aretz, but were denied this request. Even though eggs were extracted and frozen, it was reported the family later abandoned the idea of having them fertilized.
Still, this ruling opens the door for a mother to give birth after her death. But if Ayash’s family had moved forward with a request to fertilize the eggs, according to Israeli law that requires implied consent of the deceased, they would have needed evidence of Ayash’s desire to be a mother. The Guardian reports:
According to Irit Rosenblum, a lawyer who founded New Family, an Israeli organisation that promotes family rights, the key issue is consent. “We don’t know if [Ayash] was concerned about continuation,” she said adding that even though the girl was only 17, she may have expressed a desire to bear children. “If [the family] can prove the fact that she wanted children, I see no reason why not to allow this.”
The Guardian goes on to note other times when parents have Israeli families have been allowed to extract sperm from deceased sons:
In 2007, the Israeli parents of a deceased soldier won a legal battle to be allowed to use his sperm, which was extracted post mortem, to create a child with an identified surrogate mother. Earlier this year, another Israeli family embarked on a legal battle to be allowed to use their dead son’s sperm to produce a grandchild, although they had no surrogate standing by.
Although not many countries have laws for post-mortem gamete harvesting, according to The Telegraph, it has been more common for men to have sperm extracted after death. The US does not have any specific laws about sperm extraction after death, although disposition laws after death of already extracted sperm, eggs or embryos do exist and vary by state.
The Telegraph goes on to say that a dozen or so cases of sperm retrieval has been conducted from corpses in the US but also references an instance in 2010 where judges and doctors did not allow eggs to be extracted from from a woman killed by a heart attack.