If a woman does not reproduce when she is alive then she shall never reproduce, or shall she? Scientific studies have proven that collection of a woman’s egg or a man’s semen can be used to reproduce even after death. This story is regarding the case of Chen Aida Ayash, a young seventeen year old Israeli girl who passed away in early august of 2011 and whose family was posthumously granted a petition by an Israeli court to have her eggs harvested and frozen.
Ayash was killed in a tragic car accident before she was able to become a parent. According to Ayash’s parents, she was eager for motherhood, but, unfortunately, this young woman never did have the chance to have children of her own. According to Rosamond Rhodes, the Director of Bioethics Education at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, the critical issue is whether Chen would have wanted her biological children to be born after she was dead. Arthur Caplan, Chairman of the Department of Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, said that policies need to be set in place for the procedure, like waiting a certain period of time for the families’ emotions to settle down before making a decision.
Student Researchers: Orlando Ashah, Indian River State College ; Joseph Magana, Indian River State College
Faculty Evaluator: Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D., Indian River State College Sources:
Grieving family wins right to harvest eggs from daughter who died in car crash, Mail Online, August 12, 2011
1) Stier,Caitlin. July 16,2010. Can you take eggs from a dying woman.? retrieved November 10,2012, from http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2010/07/doctors-dilemma- can-you-take-e.html.
2) Conley,Mikaela. August 11,2011. Harvesting dead girl’s eggs raises ethical issues. retrieved November 10,2012, from http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/Ethics/28009.
The question being considered in this case is whether or not Ayash’s parents ought to have the right to “harvest” their deceased daughter’s eggs to fertilize with donated sperm. There are good reasons to believe that such a procedure would be morally wrong. Unfortunately, Ayash is deceased and consequently is no longer in a position to enjoy the fruits of motherhood. So, if her parent’s motive is to fulfill their daughter’s ends, presumably for the sake of her happiness, their point is moot. If on the other hand, they are seeking to further their own ends, and they are looking to conceive a human being as some sort of commemorative gesture, then this is a blatant disrespect for human life, that of the person to be conceived.
Our notion of liberty is specifically meant for the respect of a person’s right to their own life and property. In the case of a surrogate, a person’s autonomy is ceded to a third party in the event that the individual is not able to act in her own interest. A person’s aspirations for parenthood or riches expire at the time of death. Even in the case of a will in which wealth is passed down to subsequent generations, the inherited wealth may be dealt with by the heirs in a manner of their own choosing because it is now their wealth. This only applies to material remains, not a person’s genetic remains. Parents have rights over under aged children, and in the case of an unmarried adult who cannot answer medical questions for herself. However, once the adult person is deceased no one has a right to do for her that which she did not specifically authorize. As far as the law is concerned, we cannot know what the deceased opinion would be in this matter. Therefore, in the absence of a last will and testament, the only things left to be had from her would be unclaimed property which requires no special status.
When is it right to make a decision for a deceased person? The answer is never; it is
absolutely wrong for one to make a decision for a deceased family member; if direct instructions were not left for her eggs to be fertilized, the eggs should not be fertilized. This is based on the simple fact that the deceased has not given her consent. The fact is, if the judge were to grant the family permission, the popularity of such cases might increase, making it nearly impossible to ever draw a line.