Posthumous Sperm Donation in NY

Here’s a story about another instance of collection of sperm from a man after his death.    In this instance Gisela Marrero was granted permission to collect sperm from the body of her fiancee, Johnny Quintana.  Quintana had died suddenly and unexpectedly.   Quintana and Marrero already had one child and had discussed having another, as recently as the day before his death.   Quintana’s parents supported Marrero’s request.

This case bears an obvious resemblance to the one in Texas not so long ago.  There a mother was granted permission to harvest sperm from her son’s body after his death.  The Texas case is a bit more complicated, perhaps, because there’s no specific egg donor/mother in mind.   By contrast, in the New York case the plan is clear–Marrero would be the mother of any resulting child.

Under the circumstances it’s not surprising that the court hearing took ten minutes.   The hard part here might well be getting into a courtroom as it is not exactly clear who you would bring a lawsuit against–no one here objects to the procedure.  (I assume the defendant is whoever has custody of the body, who might not agree without a court order.)   Additionally from the judge’s point of view, if collection is allowed the result can possibly be reversed later.  An order denying collection would be unappealable and irreversible.

Do two cases in a few weeks constitute a trend?   It’s quite possible that publicity for these cases will lead to still other cases in instances where no one would have otherwise thought to collect the sperm. 

I’m not troubled by the process, but there are a whole series of questions hanging out there that will need to be decided in time.   For example, suppose Quintana’s sperm is used by Marrero.   Are there any purposes for which we would want Quintana to be legally recognized as the father?   Given that other recent story about sperm used 22 years after collection, we might not need to think about this for some time.

But the very passage of time might matter.   If either Marrero or Missy Evans (the mother in the Texas case) wait several or more years, it becomes increasingly difficult for me to see any argument that the sperm donor is or should be a legal father to the child.   This is not to say that the use of the sperm won’t have much significance in the life of the people involved.   But I’m not sure what societal  interests would possibly be served by giving the (by then long-deceased) donor status as a legal father.

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