I support reproductive science and the right of parents to create a family using assisted reproductive technology, but these new methods create potential scenarios that pose interesting moral dilemmas.
People process grief in different ways. But a mother who hopes to use her deceased daughter’s frozen eggs to have a baby is a coping mechanism I’ve never heard of before.
Newster.com brings us the story of a 59-year-old British woman hoping to give birth to her dead daughter’s child. The woman, who’s name has not released to the public, hopes to use donor sperm to create an embryo. If the pregnancy is successful the woman wants raise the baby with her husband, who would genetically be the child’s grandfather.
The couple lost their own daughter to bowel cancer in 2008. The daughter was in her 20s when she passed away. When she first found out about her illness, she had three eggs frozen with the hopes that she would one day be able to have children. At the time she froze her eggs, the daughter completed a form which said she gave permission for the eggs to be used beyond her death, but she failed to complete an additional form stating exactly how she would want her eggs to be used post-mortem. Although the woman claims that it was her daughter’s dying wish to have her mother carry and deliver a child that would genetically be her grandchild, there is nothing in writing stating the daughter’s intentions.
Thus far, the woman has been unable to find a facility in the United Kingdom that is willing to fertilize the eggs. Therefore she is trying to gain permission to have the eggs exported to a clinic in New York. The New York clinic has allegedly agreed to perform the in vitro fertilization for approximately $90,000. The woman’s request to have the eggs moved to the United States has been denied by the courts three times so far. It will soon be heard by the United Kingdom’s High Court. If her petition is rejected, the eggs will be destroyed in 2018 — ten years after they were originally frozen.
There’s no question this is an extremely sad situation. These parents are mourning the loss of a daughter gone far too soon, and I’m sure attempting to use these eggs is a way of both remembering and honoring their daughter and sparing themselves from grief over losing the dream of a grandchild as well. But just because science gives us the power to do something, doesn’t mean we should use it.
I’m a big fan of assisted reproductive technology, having used the full extent of it to conceive my own two children. However there’s a big difference between assisting parents in having a family and the situation of these grieving parents. The lack of explicit consent on the part of the deseased genetic mother is concerning, and I can’t help but wonder how the child would feel about their conception story– if they would feel extrememly loved and wanted or like a replacement for the child their grandparents lost.
Perhaps it makes me a hypocrite, but without express written permission, I believe a person’s ability to procreate should pass when they do.