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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Death and conception.

The complex moral, ethical and legal concerns that have arisen as a result of posthumous assisted reproduction (PAR) are examined in this report. Difficult questions such as what constitutes informed consent, and whether it is ethical to retrieve spermatozoa from patients who are in a coma, are considered. Legal issues, such as whether gametes can be considered as property and the need to clarify the legal definition of paternity in cases of children born in such circumstances, are also discussed, while other points regarding the advisability of PAR, respecting the wishes of the deceased donor and the need to protect the interests of the unborn child, are outlined. The motives of the gestating women, viewing their desire for PAR perhaps as part of the grieving process, and the effects on the children concerned are examined; it is concluded that there appears to be no adverse effect, but this finding might be premature. The report also asserts the need for responsible accounting on the part of fertility clinics, and calls for fairness, transparency and patience to help the bereaved reach an unbiased yet informed decision. This may be achieved by offering ample time for informed and support counselling. Finally, consideration should be expressed for the welfare of unborn child, in a balanced, pragmatic and sensible manner.[1]


  1. Death and conception. Bahadur, G. Hum. Reprod. (2002) [Pubmed]
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