Dead man to father a child after court gives girlfriend ownership of sperm
BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA, July 13, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A dead Australian man’s sperm can be used by his former girlfriend to make a baby even though he never consented to that before committing suicide two years ago.
After living with Ayla Cresswell for about three years, Joshua Davies killed himself.
Since the couple had been planning to get married and have children, she immediately sought and obtained, with the support of his family, a court order to remove his sperm and reproductive tissues.
That sperm then became Cresswell’s property, Supreme Court of Queensland Justice Susan Brown ruled last month.
“Once the sperm was separated from the body of Joshua Davies, it was property capable of permanent possession given that its removal, separation and preservation was the result of the lawful exercise of work and skill,” Brown wrote in her decision.
“Ms. Cresswell was prima facie entitled to possession of the sperm as Joshua Davies’ partner, as the medical and laboratory staff were acting as her agents in undertaking the work and skill required to separate and preserve the sperm,” she wrote.
The dead man’s former girlfriend is now legally allowed to use that sperm to be artificially inseminated using in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques.
The Catholic Church labels these technologies gravely immoral because, among other things, they separate procreation from sex. Many other Christians and pro-life people oppose IVF as well because it often results in the destruction of embryonic humans.
“These techniques (heterologous artificial insemination and fertilization) infringe the child's right to be born of a father and mother known to him and bound to each other by marriage,” teaches the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “They betray the spouses' ‘right to become a father and a mother only through each other.’”
In reaching her decision, Justice Brown had to consider whether the deceased’s sperm and reproductive tissues were removed in accordance with relevant tissue and transplant laws and whether or not the sperm could be owned.
Even though some other judges in Australia had previously come to other conclusions, including one who stated he did not see how it could be in the best interests of a child to grow up fatherless, Justice Brown granted Cresswell ownership of her dead boyfriend’s sperm.
In her decision, she noted there was no evidence Davies, who died without leaving a will, had ever objected to Cresswell using his sperm. The judge also concluded Cresswell was being rational in making this choice.
“I am satisfied that Ms. Cresswell’s decision to proceed with this application is rational and motivated by her wanting to have a child, specifically Joshua Davies’ child, and is not an irrational response to grief,” the judge wrote in her decision.
The judge also concluded Davies’ decision to end his own life did not in any way mean he had a change of heart about his future with his girlfriend.
“There is no evidence suggesting to me that Joshua Davies taking his own life was in any way connected with any change in view of his relationship with Ms. Cresswell or the plans that they held for the future,” Justice Brown wrote. “Of course, what was in his mind that morning is something that no-one will ever know.”