In Australia, the Brisbane Supreme Court issued a decision on Wednesday granting one woman, Ayla Cresswell, the right to use her dead boyfriend’s sperm to have children. The young couple had been in a relationship for about three years. They were thinking about getting married and having children. Joshua Davies committed suicide in August 2016. Forty-eight hours after his death, the young woman applied to have his reproductive tissue and sperm to be extracted and stored at an IVF clinic.
As the couple had expressed a desire to have children, relatives and friends of the deceased affirmed that he would have been for it. The judge concluded that there was no clear opposition to using the sperm of the deceased in such circumstances and that it would not be contrary to his wishes: I am satisfied… any child which may be conceived as a result of the use of Joshua Davies’ sperm will be loved, cared for and able to be financially and emotionally supported, not only by Ms Cresswell but by the extended family”.
The court ruling specifies that Ayla Cresswell is the only person authorised to use the semen. Justice Susan Brown found that “the way in which the sperm was removed meant it was capable of being classed as property”. She also considered that, as the semen was taken on behalf of the plaintiff, it could be considered as “property” and that the young woman was entitled to possess it.
Queensland Law Society’s deputy president Bill Potts said that “never before in Queensland has the sperm of a dead person been allowed to be extracted and then used for the purposes of procreation”.
It is now up to the medical clinic to decide whether to move forward with the fertilisation procedure.
For further reading:
The Guardian (20/06/2018) – Australian woman wins right to use dead boyfriend’s sperm ; ABC News, Ashleigh Stevenson et Laura Gartry (20/06/2018)