Page URL:

Israeli court allows use of dead soldier's sperm

29 January 2007
Appeared in BioNews 393

After a four-year battle, an Israeli court has ruled in favour of a family campaigning for the right to use their dead son's sperm in order to inseminate a woman that he never knew. Soldier Keivan Cohen was shot dead in Gaza in 2002. His mother, Rachel, ordered that his sperm be retrieved in order to fulfil his wish to have a family, although he had not given explicit consent before his death to have his sperm used in this way.

The hospital refused to give her access to the frozen sperm without court approval, as legally only a spouse can make such a request. The family challenged the hospital's decision in court, claiming that it was their son's deepest wish to have children. The court viewed video material in which Keivan expressed his wish to start a family. The family claimed that it was their duty, as grandparents, to ensure that the insemination was carried out. They also assured the court that, after selecting a woman to have the child, they would restrict their role to that of grandparents.

No prior provisions existed in Israeli law regarding the permitted use of sperm extracted from the deceased, therefore this ruling sets a precedent. The move also comes despite a previous ruling three years ago, denying the rights of parents of the dead in such cases. Therefore, the ruling represents the first time that a court has approved the use of a deceased man's sperm to impregnate a woman he has never met.

The Cohen family advertised for potential mothers, and subsequently selected a 25-year old woman to be inseminated, from over 40 who came forward with offers of help. The woman wishes to remain anonymous. The family's lawyer, Irit Rosenblum, said that the court ruling meant that family lines could now be continued without the written consent of the male prior to death. Of the Cohen family she commented, 'It's a dream come true, on the one hand [the Cohens] lost a child, on the other hand they got some hope'.

In 1997 Diane Blood was denied fertility treatment in the UK in her pursuit to give birth to her husband's children posthumously. Mrs Blood was refused treatment because her husband's sperm had been extracted after he had lapsed into a coma, and therefore he had not given his express consent to its use. However, Mrs Blood travelled to Belgium to have treatment and now has two sons. In September 2003, after a five-year campaign, Mrs Blood won the right to have her late husband's name added to her children's birth certificates.

Court approves use of fallen IDF soldier's sperm for insemination |  15 January 2007
Mother wins dead son sperm case
BBC News Online |  19 January 2007
Soldier's case adds to IVF controversy
The Guardian News Blog |  24 January 2007
24 October 2016 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A woman in Australia has been given permission by the Queensland Supreme Court to extract sperm from her boyfriend after his sudden death...
19 September 2011 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
A recent court case in Israel has generated much controversy after a judge allowed the family of deceased 17-year-old Chen Aida Ayish to extract and freeze her eggs posthumously. At the time, the family also requested permission to fertilise the eggs but it is now understood to have retracted its request – reportedly in the face of public pressure...
15 August 2011 - by Ayesha Ahmad 
An Israeli court has granted permission for a family to extract and freeze eggs from their deceased daughter's ovaries...
13 October 2008 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The UK's High Court has ruled that it may have been unlawful for a widow to have removed her dead husband's sperm. Despite UK law requiring valid written consent for the storage and use of sperm, the 42-year-old widow obtained emergency Court permission to have sperm...
13 October 2008 - by Diane Blood 
This past week there have been reports of a case similar to the court case I won against the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in 1997 (1,2,3). A woman was unexpectedly widowed when her husband underwent a routine minor operation in June 2007. Six days before that the couple...
19 July 2004 - by BioNews 
A British woman is pregnant with her husband's child two years after he died from lung cancer. Diana Scott, who is 44 years old, was implanted with IVF embryos created using her late husband's sperm, which had been in frozen storage since before his death. The couple had been trying...
3 December 2003 - by BioNews 
Diane Blood has re-registered the birth of her two sons, born following the use of sperm taken from her dead husband. In September 2003, she succeeded in her five-year campaign to have her late husband's name on her children's birth certificates. Until 1 December, Liam and Joel Blood's birth certificates...
17 November 2003 - by BioNews 
Women in Israel will be able to harvest the sperm of their dead husbands, even if the men had not given their prior consent. But the new guidelines, released last week, also say that a widow will not be able to claim the sperm if the husband had clearly indicated...
22 September 2003 - by Juliet Tizzard 
This week the law in the UK has been changed to allow the name of men who have died before their child was conceived to appear on that child's birth certificate. It's not a radical change in the law or any great philosophical shift in the way that we regulate...
19 September 2003 - by BioNews 
Diane Blood has won her campaign to have her late husband's name on her children's birth certificates. Mrs Blood has been campaigning for legislation to be changed in the UK since her two children were born following the use of sperm taken from her husband after he died. Originally, the...
to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions

Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.