Sperm and Egg Retrieval for Posthumous Reproduction
Posthumous reproduction refers to a deliberate decision to produce a child after one or both potential biological parents die (1). For purposes of this chapter, we are also using this term to refer to reproduction when one or both of the biological parents is in a permanent unconscious condition (2). Posthumous reproduction may involve several distinct levels of physician involvement: (1) in the procurement (“harvesting”) of the biological specimens; (2) in the preparation and/or storage of those specimens; and (3) in the use of the specimens for reproduction. Posthumous reproduction may include the use of “banked” specimens that were knowingly procured and stored by explicit consent of the individual. However, this chapter focuses on a more recent phenomenon of harvesting and use of specimens collected after death or a diagnosis of a permanent unconscious condition of the “donating” individual (3). The medical and legal communities have debated what physicians should or should not do in response to requests for posthumous reproduction for a number of years without achieving a complete consensus. In the United States, there are currently no uniform laws or regulations for governing assisted reproduction (4). Through a series of questions listed below, this chapter poses the common questions and examines the trends in posthumous reproduction.
KeywordsAssisted Reproductive Technology Assisted Reproduction Persistent Vegetative State Surrogate Decision Maker Sperm Retrieval
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