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Widow granted rights to harvest deceased husband’s sperm

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A 62-year-old woman from Australia has successfully gained permission to collect her deceased husband’s sperm, asserting that the couple had contemplated having another child before his demise. 

Their consideration arose in 2019 following the tragic loss of their 30-year-old son in a car accident, with a previous incident involving the drowning of their 29-year-old daughter during a fishing trip six years earlier.

The married couple of 39 years initiated investigations into the feasibility of utilizing the sperm of the 61-year-old husband for surrogate impregnation. 

Following his death at home on December 17 last year, the wife, who remains anonymous due to legal constraints, sought to preserve his sperm through the hospital morgue. 

However, the hospital’s delayed decision prompted her to urgently petition the Supreme Court of Western Australia. Medical experts recommend collecting reproductive tissue within one to two days post-mortem.

Judge Fiona Seaward ruled in favor of permitting the harvesting and storage of the sperm, but specified that additional court orders would be necessary before it could be employed for fertilization. 

As posthumous fertilization is prohibited in Western Australia, the woman must pursue a legal transfer of the genetic material to a jurisdiction permitting such procedures.

In court, the woman disclosed that she and her husband had explored the option of an overseas surrogate, as she had been advised by a fertility expert that conceiving naturally at her age was improbable. 

Allegedly, her younger cousin residing in the Philippines had volunteered to act as the surrogate. Testing confirmed the suitability of her husband’s sperm for in vitro fertilization, as reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Judge Seaward, in her verdict, expressed no doubts about the husband’s hypothetical consent for posthumous sperm retrieval. The court order was issued on December 21 but was only recently disclosed to the public.

 

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