Posthumous Reproduction (PHR) in Israel: Policy Rationales Versus Lay People’s Concerns, a Preliminary Study

Abstract

Israeli policy concerning PHR has been decided upon in an expertocratic manner, leaving the voice of the public unheard. Based on 26 semi-structured in-depth interviews with 13 Jewish-Israeli young couples, this preliminary study provides the first empirical data regarding lay attitudes toward PHR in Israel. Findings suggest major dissimilarities between the policy and lay people’s wishes and rationales. While policy is built on the “presumed wish” assumption, supposing all men living in a loving relationship wish to have their partner carry their child post-mortem, this was empirically unsupported. However, the findings suggest that many interviewees were willing to defer to their surviving spouse’s wishes to have their post-mortem child, sometimes even against their own wish, indicating a support for presumed consent. Respecting the wishes of the dead, a dominant argument in the bioethical discussion in Israel and beyond, was mainly irrelevant to informants, whereas interviewees considered the future child’s welfare, a concern overlooked by Israeli policy. Likewise, while posthumous grandparenthood is on the rise in Israel, it clearly contradicts the wishes of the majority of this study’s informants. Nonetheless, existing policy is not expected to raise any opposition, due to the extreme liberalism of the participants and their support of reproductive autonomy.

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Acknowledgments

I would like to thank my colleague and friend Dr. Dafna Hacker for her helpful remarks on early drafts of this manuscript, and Ms. Sharon Hagbi my research assistant, for her continuous contribution and excellent work on this study.

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Correspondence to Yael Hashiloni-Dolev.

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Hashiloni-Dolev, Y. Posthumous Reproduction (PHR) in Israel: Policy Rationales Versus Lay People’s Concerns, a Preliminary Study. Cult Med Psychiatry 39, 634–650 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11013-015-9447-6

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Keywords

  • Posthumous reproduction
  • Israel
  • Informed wish/consent of the deceased
  • Posthumous grandparenthood
  • Policy