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Nepal Quake Gives Birth to Hopes for Israeli Surrogacy Reform

The Nepal earthquake has provided a possible opening for Knesset, rabbinical court to reexamine their laws which force homosexual couples to use international surrogates for carrying their babies.

 

Legal and religious experts working with Israeli couples having children by surrogacy in foreign countries hope that Saturday’s devastating earthquake in Nepal will move Israel to reexamine its surrogacy laws.

Israeli rescue teams were in the process of retrieving 26 babies born to surrogates in Nepal from the ravaged country. The babies and their prospective Israeli parents had been waiting in Kathmandu for DNA test results that would have confirmed their parenthood and granted the adults permission to bring the babies home with them.

In addition, the Justice Ministry has cleared the way for surrogate mothers in Nepal carrying babies for Israeli couples — these are Indian nationals — to be brought from Nepal to Israel as soon as possible. Most of the surrogates are in advanced stages of pregnancy.

The 7.8-magnitude quake that has left 4,438 confirmed dead — as of Tuesday afternoon — and 8,000 injured also severely damaged Nepal’s medical infrastructure, putting the pregnant surrogates and the babies they are carrying at serious risk.

A Magen David Adom paramedic holding a newborn baby born to a surrogate mother in Nepal, on Tuesday, April 28 2015. (Photo credit: Courtesy Magen David Adom)

“I am certainly hoping that the Nepal earthquake will encourage Israel to take another look at its approach to surrogacy, to look at it with an eye to the moral and social issues of today,” said Rabbi Seth Farber, founder of ITIM, an organization that helps people navigate the byzantine depths of the religious authorities’ bureaucracy in Israel.

Israel’s first surrogacy law came on the books in 1996, and it has not been amended since then. Only heterosexual couples are legally able to use surrogacy in Israel, and there are many restrictions on who can serve as a surrogate. While straight couples must go through an onerous committee process in order to qualify for surrogacy, homosexual couples are left completely out of the system. Consequently, they must look to foreign surrogacy as a means of producing a child biologically related to one member of the couple.

According to Victoria Gelfand, a Tel Aviv attorney who specializes in foreign surrogacy, there are few countries in which gay couples can pursue the surrogacy option. Currently, only the United States, Nepal and Mexico are options. India used to be a possibility, but it recently decided to stop issuing visas to homosexual couples. As a result, many of them have turned to neighboring Nepal.

‘I am certainly hoping that the Nepal earthquake will encourage Israel to take another look at its approach to surrogacy, to look at it with an eye to the moral and social issues of today’
(It should be noted that the South Asian surrogates, who are paid the life-changing sum of $5,000-$10,000 for their services, are gestational surrogates only. Israeli gay couples usually use donor eggs from European or South African women.)

The costs involved drive the couples — both gay and straight— to choose South Asian countries. Surrogacy costs around $40,000 in those countries, as opposed to $150,000 in the US, where only 10 percent of foreign surrogate births for Israeli couples took place in 2013. Heterosexual couples also have the choice of Georgia or Ukraine, where the bill runs somewhere in the middle, around $65,000.

Farber would like the government to revisit the recommendations of the Mor-Yosef Committee, tasked in 2010 with examining public policy options relating to fertility and childbirth. In December 2013, Health Minister Yael German announced that she would put forth legislation based on the committee’s recommendations to open up the opportunity to use surrogate mothers for singles and homosexual couples.

But last year, a bill based on the recommendations failed to make it past a first reading in the Knesset. The bill also aimed to provide stronger regulation and more supervision of the foreign surrogacy process so as to avoid the type of problems Israelis have run into in the past when trying to leave various countries with children born by surrogates.

A welcome reception held for gay fathers returning from Thailand, where local surrogate women gave birth to their babies.  February 20, 2014. (photo credit: Gideon Markowicz/FLASH90)

Farber, who said he is empathetic to those in the homosexual community who want to bring children into the world, acknowledges that this still may be problematic for some people.

“However, even those who have an issue with gay surrogacy need to realize that two-thirds of surrogacy births are for heterosexual families,” he said.

Gelfand backed up that assertion with statistics from 2013. In that year, Israelis had 227 births (either a singleton or multiples) by surrogacy. Of those, 58 took place in Israel, and by law were to heterosexual couples. There were 169 surrogate births abroad, and of those, 82 were for heterosexual couples.

As an attorney, Gelfand approaches the surrogacy issue from a legal angle. As a rabbi, Farber is more concerned about the application of halacha, Jewish law, in surrogacy cases. Both, however, would like to see a more open approach to the subject.

“People in Israel are still not open-minded about surrogacy,” said Gelfand. She hopes that an eventual loosening of the restrictions on who can serve as a surrogate will bring more women to consider serving as one.

Farber would like to see the rabbinical courts take a more sensitive approach regarding the Jewish status of children born by surrogacy. Currently, all children born by surrogacy — even those who were conceived using an egg from a Jewish woman — must undergo conversion.

Farber thinks that in the cases where the egg was from a Jewish woman, the conversion should just be procedural. Where it concerns other children born by surrogacy (such as virtually all foreign surrogacies using donor eggs), he believes there is justification for individualizing the conversion standards.

“We call on the rabbinical court to come up with a solution that is more user-friendly,” he said. “We should congratulate these families, not make things more difficult for them.”

Gelfand is somewhat skeptical that the Nepal earthquake will quickly revive the proposed bill from 2014, which she believes is unfortunate given that she predicts that embryo transfers for surrogate births in Nepal will stop for the next months, as prospective Israeli parents wait to see how the situation there develops.

By contrast, Farber thinks the quake could serve as a wake-up call — if only the coalition negotiations would be over.

“If there were a government, they’d be hearing about this already,” he said.

Hawaii Fertility Law Leaves Out Singles, Same-Sex Couples

In Hawaii there is a bill pending to change the laws to remove the requirements for spousal sperm.

HONOLULU (AP) – Hawaii is one of a handful of states that requires insurance companies to cover fertility treatment through in vitro fertilization.

But same-sex couples and single women are left out because the coverage rules only apply to married, heterosexual couples. That’s because the Hawaii law states that a patient’s eggs must be fertilized by her spouse.

Advocates are calling the practice discriminatory. They’re hoping to change the law.

A bill is pending in the Hawaii Legislature that would remove the spousal sperm requirement.

The infertility association Resolve says Maryland and Arkansas have similar coverage mandates for heterosexual couples. An effort to update Maryland’s law passed the Legislature but hasn’t yet been signed into law by the governor.

Barbara Collura of Resolve says Hawaii’s law desperately needs to be updated.

Inside the Dark Realities of the International Surrogacy Industry

In the latest Vice for HBO documentary, correspondent Gianna Toboni traveled to India to report on the booming gestational-surrogacy industry. Commissioning couples from the U.S. and Europe use Indian surrogacy agencies because they’re as much as six times cheaper than Western alternatives. Surrogacy companies claim to offer opportunities for women to escape poverty, promoting international surrogacy as a win-win for everyone involved.

But, Toboni and her team quickly expose the dark underside of an unregulated and dangerous industry. Women are routinely recruited from slums, made to sign contracts they can’t read, before spending a year living in a facility. Once the baby is born — via cesarean section so that doctors can maximize births per day — the surrogate is sent home, often without the full compensation she was promised. We spoke to Toboni about the lives of surrogate women, how the industry can improve, and the emerging black market for “extra” babies.

Do you think the American and European commissioning couples that use these Indian surrogacy agencies really don’t know what’s going on?
There are cases where American couples feel a little strange about what is happening, and the ethics of it, but turn a blind eye because they don’t want to pay the higher rates in the States. Many couples don’t want to know what’s behind the scenes, they want their baby fast, and they want it done cheaply. At the same time, there are couples who have an ongoing relationship with the surrogate and are very involved in making sure she’s making a choice and not simply being exploited.

At one point you go undercover to explore the extremely cheap and rather questionable surrogacy organizations. I couldn’t tell if you were able to find these agencies because of your team’s investigative skills or if they’re regularly being used by American couples.
That’s something I was wondering initially myself. So when we got to these seedy agencies with poor practices, I’d say something like, “I’m a little bit nervous, do Americans use your organization?” And they said yes. There was one guy, who ended up in the episode, and not only did he say yes, but he pulled up their profiles on Facebook and showed us the babies that had been gestated by his surrogates. It wasn’t like they were just boasting about their business; they had social-media proof. If you’re an American, you want to pay a cheap price, unfortunately, and you can find these places. We just showed up at the door and knocked.

There’s such dramatic income disparities and power dynamics at play with international surrogacy. To me, it seems inherently problematic, but do you think there’s a way it could be done right?
I do think there’s a way to do it right. The Indian government just hasn’t passed regulations that would allow this to be a safe industry. More regulations and increased effort by couples would help. It’s the responsibility of the couple to really research and see what kind of pressure their surrogate is under. I asked one woman when she was on the delivery table about to give birth if she was ever afraid she could die during childbirth. She said, “Yeah, I know that’s a real possibility.” The surrogates understand what the situation is medically for them, but it doesn’t seem like the commissioning couples do. The medical facility is good and clean, but at the same time, these women are risking their lives.

Right now, the surrogacy industry is anything goes, which is really scary. There was legislation proposed in India in 2010, it just hasn’t been passed. We didn’t see anyone receive poor medical service at the clinics we were able to visit. At the same time, there’s no limit to how many embryos can be implanted. Doctors have been known to insert more than one or two embryos to increase the chances that the woman will get pregnant without losing time or money. The commissioning couple may only want one baby, so sometimes, when more than one baby is born, the couple isn’t told, even though it’s their genetic offspring. As you can see in the documentary, I was offered one of these babies from the black market.

Were you surprised by the black-market industry surrounding these “extra” babies?
I wasn’t surprised that it existed, but I was surprised by how easily we were able to find it. We did a lot of research and spoke to a number of experts before we went, and we’d heard rumors that there are extra babies and orphanages of white babies in India. We didn’t find any orphanages, but then, when a couple offered me a baby for sale over dinner, it was shocking.

Do you find it difficult to maintain the journalistic remove required to do a job like this?
That situation in particular, when I was undercover and offered that baby, was the most heartbreaking experience I’ve ever been a part of. It was terrifying how aggressively they were pushing this baby on us. They even offered to let us make a down payment so we could take it home in a few days. I’m sitting there thinking, I’m sure I could find someone to raise this baby. But it’s also highly illegal and you just can’t. Vice doesn’t require the colder, more removed affect we’ve come to expect from investigative work. You can sit there and say, “This is really fucked-up and I want to take this baby so it’s safe.” To not be able to authentically react to what I’m seeing would do a disservice to the content. I’m a journalist, but I’m a human being first.

One thing that often happens with these internationally reported stories is that journalists go in, do the investigative work, interview people on the ground, and then produce something that those people never see. Do you make an effort to show participants, like the surrogate women, the role they have in exposing this story?
For sure, when people give us their time and tell their story, which is often taking them away from their family or their work, it’s important we show them the final product.

 

Scientists Create 1st Genetically Modified Human Embryo

I Spent Fifteen Thousand Pounds For A Baby Girl

It sounds like something straight from a sci-fi film, but scientists have actually created the first genetically modified human embryo.

 

For the first time in history, a team of researchers have successfully edited the genes of a human embryo. The researchers from Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou reportedly used the CRISPR/Cas9 technique to knock a gene called HBB, which causes the fatal blood disorder ß-thalassaemia, out of donor embryos. This marks the first time that the CRISPR technique has been employed on an embryonic human genome. The CRISPR/Cas9 method utilizes a complex enzyme (aka a set of “genetic scissors”) to snip out and replace faulty gene segments with functional bits of DNA. The technique is well-studied in adult cells, but very little published research has been done using embryonics. And it’s the latter application that has bioethicists up in arms.

On one hand, advocates for genetic modification argue that it could lead to medical techniques that eliminate devastating genetic disorders like Parkinson’s, Down syndrome or Sickle-Cell Anemia before a person is even born. On the other hand, critics warn that tinkering with the blueprints of life to prenatally destroy disease could lead to unintended genetic consequences that are even worse than whatever disease we’re trying to cure.

Then there’s also a whole other argument as to whether this technique crosses ethical boundaries. “We are humans, not transgenic rats,” Edward Lanphier, president of Sangamo and chairman of the Alliance for Regenerative Medicine, recently wrote in a Nature op-ed. “We believe there is a fundamental ethical issue in crossing the boundary to modifying the human germ line.”

Still, the potential for future misuse has rarely slowed the development of a new technology — just look at the automobile, assault rifle or atom bomb. According to the Sun Yat-sen research team, they eventually called off the study, not because they created genetic monstrosities, but because the technique failed so often. Out of the 86 total embryos utilized in the study, 71 survived the initial CRISPR snips, only 28 successfully spliced in the new DNA and a small fraction of those splices actually generated a functional protein. “If you want to do it in normal embryos, you need to be close to 100 percent,” lead researcher Junjiu Huang told Nature. “That’s why we stopped. We still think it’s too immature.” The researchers published their findings in a recent issue of the journal Protein & Cell.

A Rising Trend: Pregnant Women Over 50

Anna raunigk- older mom

Couples are having children later in life, thanks to in vitro fertilization or IVF.

 

Recently it hit the news that 65-year-old Annegret Raunigk, a mother of 13 children, is now pregnant with quadruplets. This summer, Raunigk could possibly be the oldest woman to give birth to quadruplets, a title that is quite close to the oldest woman to give birth, Rajo Devi, an Indian woman who gave birth at the age of 70. In comparison, the oldest man to father a child was 96-year-old Ramajit Raghav of India. Although it may seem like Raunigk’s and Devi’s pregnancies are uncommon, you might be surprised to discover that there is a rising trend of women over the age of 50 getting pregnant and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

In 2013, there were 677 births to women over the age of 50 in America—that’s 13 births a week. There were 600 births in 2012. This phenomena is not just occurring in the U.S. but in other countries like Great Britain where the birth rate for women 50 and over doubled from 2008 to 2012. For a better understanding of this trend, let’s break it down below.

How?

Probably the first question that comes to mind when thinking about women over the age of 50 bearing children is how they get pregnant. It’s common knowledge that many women go through menopause during their 50’s, a process that hinders a woman’s ability to get pregnant. That’s where in vitro fertilization, or IVF, comes in. The first woman to give birth through in vitro fertilization was in 1978 in England and the process has only continued to improve.

In vitro fertilization does come with risks for women over 50 such as multiple pregnancies, gestational diabetes, high blood pressure, premature birth, having a child with chromosome abnormalities, and miscarriages. A majority of women over 50 who use IVF are implanted with donor eggs which lowers the risk for side effects like chromosome abnormalities while others use eggs that they froze when they were younger. Many of these risks have caused fertility clinics to deny women over 50 from using their services although some studies have found that many women over the age of 50 have the same health risks as those that are younger and should be fine as long as they are properly cared for.

Who?

What kind of woman gets pregnant over the age of 50? First and foremost, they are all very healthy individuals. Some are first time mothers, same-sex couples, women who decided to focus on their careers, or women in second marriages. One thing is for certain, at least for women who use IVF, they are in financially sound places in their lives since a single IVF attempt with egg donation can cost anywhere between $25,000-$30,000 and most insurances do not cover this cost.

Why?

The trend of women deciding to get pregnant in their fifties or older has brought up many ethical and moral questions. Many of the following concerns arise when considering the topic of men and women over the age of 50 becoming parents:

  • Will they be able to handle the stamina needed to raise a child?
  • Will the child be embarrassed of or be able to relate to parents over the age of fifty?
  • Do the parents run the risk of passing away early or burdening a young child with medical conditions associated with age?
  • Why don’t these parents choose adoption?

Even though these questions arise, it hasn’t seemed to stop women who are fifty or close to fifty from getting pregnant. Take singer Sophie B. Hawkins, fifty years old and pregnant. Celebrities like Halle Berry, Gwen Stefani, Kelly Preston (John Travolta’s wife), and Susan Sarandon were pregnant in their mid-forties (ages 45-47) which isn’t too far off from 50.

Although many won’t agree based off moral or ethical concerns, the argument in favor of women giving birth over fifty is that, “People should be able to make their own decisions and deserve the right to have biological children and pursue their own happiness.” Others comment that more women and men over the age of fifty are raising their grandchildren and doing so successfully.

The role of women in society was once limited, first, as wives and child bearers. Within the last century, women were given the opportunity to pursue careers and decide if they wanted to become wives or bear children and if so, at later ages if they wished. It seems that the ability to get pregnant over the age of fifty is just another option for women, an option that gives women more control over their reproductive health and because of this trend families are growing more diverse. Modern families no longer look the way that they once did and there is something inherently beautiful in that fact.

Sherri Shepherd Ruled Legal Mother of Baby Born via Surrogate

Sherri Shepherd Ruled Legal Mother of Baby Born via Surrogate

There has finally been a ruling in the ongoing legal battle between Sherrie Shepherd and her ex-husband.
After months of battling her ex-husband in court over financial responsibility for their baby born via surrogate last August, Sherri Shepherd is now officially listed as the mother of the 8-month-old.

“It’s bittersweet,” Lamar Sally told PEOPLE outside the courtroom on Tuesday.

“I’m glad it’s over, but I feel sad what it had to come to. Now I can go back to L.A. and tend to my son.”

Since the birth of Lamar Sally Jr., the formerly married pair had been locked in a legal battle after Sally said the couple had agreed to pursue surrogacy before Shepherd had a drastic change of heart months into the surrogate’s pregnancy.

“There was some additional evidence put on the record involving some video clips involving Ms. Shepherd,” Craig Bluestein, a legal representative for the baby, told PEOPLE of the judge’s decision to hold Shepherd responsible.

Bluestein cited a clip of Shepherd “expressing excitement over her and Lamar going to have a baby through the help of a surrogate carrier with no genetic connection.”

While Shepherd did not appear in court and her lawyers declined to comment, Sally’s legal team left satisfied.

“I feel very good,” said Bluestein. “I think little LJ, who is not yet 1 year old, needed some protection. Justice was served today.”

DNA on Ice: The Next Step in Women’s Equality

In this article Kyra Phillips discusses what advancements in cryo-preservation of eggs means for women’s rights.

CNN anchors get personal about fertility

 There was a time not so long ago when my career would not have been possible. It’s hard to imagine it now, but even a few decades ago, journalism was very much a man’s world.

The National Press Club didn’t allow women to become members until 1971, when Helen Thomas successfully gained admission and eventually became its first female president. Cokie Roberts remembers applying for journalism jobs and consistently hearing that no women were allowed.

I was among the expanded group of women to break into the broadcast business in the 1980s, competing against an ol’ boys’ club almost entirely consisting of white men.

To keep my job, I knew I’d have to work harder than most men. I was willing to sacrifice almost anything for my professional success. I wanted to rule broadcast journalism, and so I broke a lot of hearts and turned down marriage proposals because I couldn’t let a relationship interfere with my career path. I certainly wasn’t about to let motherhood creep in, either.

It’s not that I didn’t want those things; I very much did. It’s just that I knew what my goals were and what a competitive field I was in. When colleagues of mine asked to leave early to pick up their children, I thought, “What are you doing?! You’re blowing it!”

I enjoyed my wild, exciting life. CNN sent me all over the world on a moment’s notice to cover fascinating things: a month in Antarctica where I got to build an igloo and rappel down glaciers, a tour of Iraq as an embedded journalist on the USS Abraham Lincoln, riding in an F-14 Tomcat during a combat training mission over the Persian Gulf. Things I couldn’t do with a diaper bag over my shoulder.

Imagine my surprise, then, when the baby pangs arrived. A little late, and a little unfortunately timed as I was freshly divorced. I suddenly realized that I wanted something more in my life. So I did the most reasonable thing I could think of: I asked my closest gay friend for his sperm.

It hadn’t occurred to me that fertility treatments don’t always work or that I should have been doing something to prepare for this possibility sooner. Women whose eggs are older make embryos that are more likely to be chromosomally abnormal, and that can mean no pregnancy at all, miscarriage or birth defects.

So, what is a woman to do?

Even just a few years ago, egg freezing was a fringe procedure — something few women did, partly because it was still considered experimental. But it isn’t anymore. There have been huge advances in egg freezing, and now frozen eggs are almost as viable as fresh ones as long as the fertility specialist knows what he or she is doing.

The procedure is pretty straightforward. Some of your eggs are removed from your ovaries and stored in liquid nitrogen. There they’ll stay, in blissful suspended animation.

If you’re not ready to have a baby in your 20s, or early- to mid-30s, harvesting and freezing your eggs is a great option for women who want to postpone motherhood. The same goes for many women who have cancer and are at risk for losing their fertility from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.

Without realizing it, I had put myself at a disadvantage by waiting so long. But lucky for me, science marched forward with progress.

The history that is being written now is about an entirely different type of women’s equality — it’s about giving a woman the ability to put her DNA on ice, stop that biological clock from ticking and avoid rushing into pregnancy because of the body’s aging process.

This helps to level the playing field at the workplace. Women can delay childbirth and no longer have to say “no” to that promotion. They don’t have to marry the first fraudulent Prince Charming that comes around in the hopes of getting pregnant before their eggs are covered in cobwebs.

A woman can be just as competitive as the man who is gunning for that job, raise, position of power or bonus while not having to take a potentially career-hobbling detour onto the Mommy Track.

After my husband and I had our twins, I understood that overwhelming love that parents talk about, and I’m so thankful I didn’t miss that opportunity. Along with my fertility doctor, I wrote “The Whole Life Fertility Plan” to empower women and show them there are things you can do now at all ages to preserve your fertility, egg freezing being one of those ways.

It should be noted that the average cost of egg freezing is about $10,000. Annual storage is around $1000 with the first year usually free. When the eggs are used, there are additional costs involved. The good news is that more and more companies now pay for it, including Citigroup, Apple, JP Morgan Chase and Facebook. Some parents even give it to their daughters as a birthday or graduation gift.

This is feminism at its finest, standing up for equality — and delayed pregnancy. I just bet you that if June Cleaver, Lucille Ball and Margaret Anderson had a shot at freezing their eggs, Ward, Desi and Jim would have had to make their own gin gimlets and meatloaf because the women would have been working on their careers.

New Britain Judge Creates New Pathway to Parenthood for Mother in Same- Sex Relationship

A woman wins a custody battle based on “marital presumption.”

There are a number of ways to legally become a parent in Connecticut: natural conception, adoption, artificial insemination and surrogacy contracts.

Well, now there’s another way after a court gave custody to Lauren Barse following her divorce.

In 2008 Barse’s same-sex spouse, Krista Pasternak, gave birth to a son via an anonymous sperm donor. The two ended up filing for divorce in August 2012, and Barse won an emergency ex parte order for custody of their son. An ex parte custody order is made when there is an immediate and present threat to the child if he or she remains in the other parent’s custody.

However, after Barse won sole custody,  Pasternak fought that Barse had no right to be the legal parent of their six-year-old son because she isn’t genetically related to him and never complied with the other legal methods, such as adoption, to becoming his legal mother.

The fact that Barse won custody is now considered a new route to parenthood that didn’t previously exist in Connecticut case law.

New Britain Superior Court Judge Lisa Kelly Morgan ruled that Barse is the legal parent of the boy despite the absence of biology or adoption because there is a “marital presumption” that she is related to the child that was born during her marriage to Pasternak.

In heterosexual marriages, if a child is born during the marriage, then the husband of the mother is presumed, legally, to be the father. In a third of states this presumption is absolute, though in many states, including Connecticut, a genetic test that proves another man has a 99 percent probability of being the child’s father can void the presumption.

In this case, of course, there is no possibility that the child is genetically related to Barse. However, according to The Connecticut Law Tribune, Morgan wrote in her opinion that the child’s legitimacy and Barse’s parenthood over him were important enough to ignore technicalities regarding marital presumption. She wrote that Barse “is presumed to be the minor child’s legal parent irrespective of whether she conceived or adopted the child, complied with the artificial insemination statutes, or entered into a valid gestational agreement, and the child therefore is presumed to be legitimate.”

Morgan also held that due to changing societal views regarding same-sex marriage, and the fact that same-sex marriage is legal in the state of Connecticut, married same-sex couples should be viewed the same in the eyes of the court as heterosexual couples. Therefore, if there is a marriage presumption that a husband is the father of a wife’s child, the same should be held true for two wives.

“The legal presumption that a child born in wedlock is the legitimate child of the mother and the mother’s spouse extends to same-sex couples, even if a party did not conceive or adopt the child and did not comply with artificial insemination statutes,” Morgan wrote in her decision.

Two Dads Looking to Adopt Make Parody Video

Joe and Joey have created this wonderful video for their future baby.

A Dead Soldier’s Infinite Potential

Judge rules that parents of a deceased soldier can use his sperm, extracted after death, to impregnate a stranger, over his widow’s objections in order to have grandchildren.

Here are the core facts of the case: In 2005 an IDF combat reservist in his 20’s was killed in a military training accident. With the approval of his young widow, hours after the reservist’s death the IDF preserved 19 test tubes of his sperm. At the time of his death, the reservist had been married four months; he had no known children nor was his wife pregnant. Subsequently, his widow re-married and today she has children from that subsequent marriage.

Significantly, the viability of the sperm is uncertain as it was extracted hours after the soldier’s death and never put to the test.

At issue is the fact that now, ten years after his death, the parents of the deceased combat veteran want to deploy the sperm – with a woman to be selected – to bring forth a child for their deceased son; however, their son’s widow and the State have objected to the idea on a variety of grounds. Observers can easily understand the grandparents’ desire to have their deceased son’s legacy live on through a child; indeed, the words of Judge Miriam Kraus beautifully convey that sentiment, when she ruled on behalf of the parents of the soldier “The deceased’s human desire to leave a child to carry on his name cries out from the circumstances of this case.”

The reservist’s widow stated that she will appeal this ruling but has not yet done so. Her opposition to the ruling is based, in part, on the claim that the unique circumstances under which her late husband might now sire a child fall outside of any social convention or framework.

The moral ambiguities are evident in this fascinating case, which has captivated me…not only on a human level but on a metaphysical level. Amicus curiae is the Latin legal term for a Friend of the Court brief to the presiding judge. I would like to file a virtual ‘metaphysical’ brief in support of the argument of the parents, based on my theory of the overarching power of potential in energizing and driving the universe.

As the reservist’s parents are his genetic progenitors, their interests align with his ‘posterity-interests.’ However, as the remarried widow now has children of her own, her ‘posterity’ interests no longer align with those of her deceased first husband – who died childless. From the perspective of potential, the parents’ birthing and 20+ year parenting relationship with their son would seem to eclipse the 4-month childless marriage of the now remarried widow, however rich the four months may have been.

Further, while the reservist’s case is a secular one, argued in a secular court, my brief incorporates metaphysical arguments, including some drawn from the Torah itself. As known, the first mitzvah in the Torah is the mitzvah of procreation – Peru U’revu: Be Fruitful and Multiply (Genesis 1:28). Fast forward to Exodus 3:14 at the Burning Bush saga where the Divine self-identifies as Eheyeh asher Eheyeh – I Will Be That Which I Will Be. God and Evil, the first volume of my three-volume work Summa Metaphysica, builds upon these two points to make the case that the God of Israel is the God of Potential – with life-potential at the apex.

The overarching theme and proposition of my Potentialism Theory is that it is the force of Infinite Potential that drives the Cosmic Order. Indeed, the raison d’etre of the Cosmic Order is to seek after its optimal potential. Extending the potential of the human genetic chain is a prime cosmic potential; this power trumps the lack of a current established framework to handle the specific situation at-hand, which is the position argued by the reservist’s widow and the State.

Judge Miriam Kraus’ verdict is closely aligned with my treatise: it is Infinite Potential that animates the universe. Therefore, the projection of Infinite Potential takes precedence in this case.

The possibility of extending the (currently childless) combat reservist’s potential onward – and potentially infinitely – trumps the unknowns and uncertainties of this Brave New World situation. There is no rule book here. The loving parents are to be entrusted to optimize the launch of this extraordinary endeavor as best they can. Hopefully, the possibilities of life and love will prevail over the potential challenges faced by a child born through this extraordinary circumstance.

In a moral quandary such as this one, potential trumps clarity.

Indeed that was the Divine gamble in Creation itself.

Asides

  • We are re-tooling the blog by giving it a complete face lift. So please excuse the mess as we are updating it. #

Welcome to The Spin Doctor

Blogging about the legal, social and political issues of the day with an emphasis on reproductive rights and bioethics.

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