Afternoon InquisitionParenting

AI: The Baby’s Mine, But I’m Dead

Quick reminder: Houston area skeptics, the Humanists of Houston are hosting a belated Darwin Day celebration at the Houston Museum of Natural Science this Saturday, Feb. 20. The event will be downstairs in the Arnold Space Hall. Political, skeptical, and cultural satirist extraordinaire, Roy Zimmerman, will entertain the crowd with his comedy and wildly hilarious songs, followed by a presentation by Dr. Neal Immega of the HMNS. Get more information here.

Okay, I saw this story on the local news last night, and thought it would make for a great Afternoon Inquisition discussion:

An unmarried young man in Austin, Texas was brutally beaten outside of a bar, and died from injuries sustained during the assault. His mother, obviously grief-stricken, got a doctor to collect her son’s sperm, postmortem. The mother is now going to use an anonymous egg donor and his sperm to make herself some grand-kids.

There is no indication that the deceased young man wanted his surviving family members to do this sort of thing in the event of an untimely death, other than his mother’s insistence that “he talked frequently about wanting three boys”.

Of course, most people who want children, want them so they themselves can participate in raising them, and so they themselves can enjoy the highs and lows of parenthood. This young man obviously won’t benefit from any of that.

This quote from the guy’s mother seems telling to me:

I think it helps me and my other son and my family, too — to know this is a huge possibility for us, and to keep him forever.

But what do you think?

Is this particular case simply a manifestation of grief? Should surviving family members engage in such a practice, if there is no surviving spouse or stipulation in a will? And what are your thoughts on the hundreds of women who volunteered to be egg donors?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear daily at 3pm ET.

Sam Ogden

Sam Ogden is a writer, beach bum, and songwriter living in Houston, Texas, but he may be found scratching himself at many points across the globe. Follow him on Twitter @SamOgden

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  1. Wow. I wonder if there are laws to prevent this type of thing. (Maybe anti-corpse-desecration laws?) I mean a dead man’s sperm was his own. Just because he’s dead shouldn’t mean his mom, his wife, or anyone else can use it without expressed permission to make children.

  2. Yeah, this is so not a healthy way to deal with loss.

    Also, I can’t help but notice that she claims that her son wanted three boys. So what would her reaction be if she ends up with girls instead?

  3. One critical piece of info missing – who will carry the resulting embryos? It’s ick either way, but if the deceased young man’s mother is going to be the incubator, then double ick.

    Definitely a violation of a corpse. Glad my eggs are old or I’d consider adding a stipulation to my will – LEAVE THE EGGS ALONE!

  4. Something similar (but not quite so odd) came up a while back when I was having a conversation on facebook about Anne Frank strangely enough. The thought was: If Anne Frank hadn’t have wanted us to read her journal, is it wrong to have published it?

    I think in the end we all agreed that it was ok because of the greater good to the community as a whole. Also, that she was dead and she didn’t care anymore.

    The being dead part still bothered me though: just because a person ceases to live do we have some sort of moral/ethical obligation to try and continue with their wishes post mortem? I tend to think so — not because they care anymore, but to honor a memory.

    SO, that being said — I don’t know what this man really wanted aside from what his mother says so it rubs me the wrong way to use his sperm without him having consented to such an act.

    BUT, he’s dead so he doesn’t really care anymore.

    Aaaaarrgh. I just don’t know.

  5. @catgirl: The dead man might not care, but what about the children that will result from this?

    It should be illegal to use someone’s eggs or semen without their explicit permission. If he had requested it in his will, fine, but he didn’t.

  6. Clearly the mom has issues with mental health and it sucks that she wants to drag a third party into her problems. There is no law, however, against troubled people raising children. The women offering to donate eggs think they’re helping, but they are not. I don’t believe anyone should get a say over what happens to their body when they are dead unless the necessary legal documents have been filed in advance.

    While it strikes me as one of the worst ideas anyone has ever had, I don’t think anyone including the government should try and stop it unless the mother is a candidate for involuntary commitment.

  7. I feel strongly that children shouldn’t be born with a mission… In this case, any offspring will be created to soothe the grandmother’s grief at losing her son, and I think that’s a crummy burden to begin life with, much less to bear.

    Of course, all the usual concerns about old people having new babies (will she have the energy to raise the child/ren? will she live to see them into adulthood? etc.) are factors, too.

    But what immediately comes to my mind is something I heard in an NPR story about cloning – this family cloned their prize bull, and they said, after the clone died, “When we did this, we never thought about how hard it would be to lose him twice.”

    This grandmother is setting herself up – there is no guarantee that these sperm will become children, much less that they’ll survive to adulthood or outlive her, and if she already (clearly) has grief-processing issues, what’s she going to do then? If the future 10 year old offspring of her dead son gets some terminal disease, is she going to harvest HIS sperm, too, and make herself a great-grandbaby? Where does it stop?

    I think she’d be much better off to focus on her living relatives, to get a good shrink, and to move on with her life. There are plenty of people in this world who need love – what difference does it make whether or not they are her biological relatives?

    I’ll tell you what, the idea that my family could posthumously create my children on my behalf creeps me right out! I guess it’s one thing for a spouse, especially if the cells had already been harvested and the couple were pursuing in vitro or something at the time of one partner’s death… But there’s a reason why you’re not supposed to create children with your parents or your children – it’s creepy. That one of them is dead doesn’t really matter. Still creepy.

    And the women who are willing to incubate the baby are the same types who write to serial killers in jail… Whack jobs.

    By the way, it’s a total pain in the ass to have to log in to comment. :)

  8. My kneejerk reaction is that it would not be fair to the child if the mother carried out this plan. The dead guy doesn’t care, but this is such a very unhealthy reaction to grief that I can’t imagine the mother would be capable of bringing up the baby in an emotionally healthy way. But it’s not illegal to be emotionally messed up and have kids, so I don’t know how well this argument would fly in court.

  9. @marilove:

    If the children do have a problem with it, would they care any less if the sperm donor had specifically requested it in his will? I think we should respect wills, but that doesn’t really seem related to the effect on the resulting children.

  10. @Surly Nymph: A diary of a dead person isn’t really the same thing as creating new lives, though.

    It bothers me that she doesn’t really have his consent (“he wanted three boys” isn’t consent), though it bothers me even more that it seems to me she’s not doing it for him, but rather for herself.

    What will the resulting children think? I myself would be bothered to learn that my dead father wasn’t even aware of the fact that he fathered me.

  11. Hmmm, seems like it should work similarly to organ donation. Next-of-kin can decide to donate organs if the deceased has not expressed a preference, correct?

  12. Seems like something that will eventually need to be added to the Organ Donor Card, now that it’s actually viable to harvest sperm and/or eggs post-mortem.

  13. @probabilistic: But creating an entirely new life isn’t the same thing as organ donor, to me. I mean, a person isn’t just a heart or an eyeball — it’s a human being that you need to raise and support.

    Maybe it’d be different if she were trying to help out a couple that was having a hard time conceiving, but it seems to me she’s doing this for selfish reasons and selfish reasons only.

    Ugh honestly the whole thing creeps me out, even if it maybe shouldn’t.

  14. Davew, but isn’t there usually an unspoken assumption in place that once we die we get buried, the end, unless we leave verbal or written instructions to do something else? I had to check a box to become an organ donor, and I don’t think I should have to specify in my will that no funny business is to be done to my body after I die. Who’d even think to mention to their mother that they don’t want their eggs or sperm to be harvested post mortem?

  15. I’m sorry, but only two words in the English language, put together, can sum this up:


    No matter how you look at it–whether it be as a simple manifestation of grief, or a sign of some deeper cultural need (gone horribly awry) to have heirs–this is deeply disturbing. The mother and the women who have offered to donate eggs all need help–compassionate but honest and unaffected help–from a clinical psychotherapist.

    I understand that grief has about as many different manifestations as there are people who experience it, and there is always a question of arbitrariness about where we draw the line about what actions/thoughts/desires warrant closer evaluation by licensed professionals. But seeing as there was no will to go by (and even if there were I would seriously have my doubts), this practise seems questionable at best, and I think the mother would be better served by seeing a grief counsellor for a period of time–at least before making such a seemingly outlandish decision.

  16. From a biological viewpoint, it doesn’t bother me. From an ethical viewpoint, I’m really not that concerned either. The grieving mother will probably raise any child in a similar way that she raised her son. In any event, I’m not as concerned with how or why a child is conceived than I am with how they are raised, and as mentioned above there is no law (not should there be) regulating the motivations for procreation.

    There are all sorts of people with screwed up families that turn out fine, and there are people with good families that get screwed up. I doubt that the the kids’ chances will be much worse than any traditionally conceived person.

    (edited to add the following: Yes, I think it’s weird. No I don’t think she’s healthy. My reply above is merely dispassionate evaluation, and not intended as a declaration of approval.)

  17. I care what happens to me while I’m alive.

    I won’t care what happens when I’m not anymore.

    Question is do I now care what happens to me when I’m no longer.

    And are other people allowed to care when I no longer can?

  18. @maralenenok: I believe the way it works is that your family can decide to donate your organs if there is no indication that you would have opposed it.

    @marilove: I agree that creating new life is different from donating an organ. However, there are all kinds of decisions that families can make for you if you don’t express a preference or leave a legal document: whether or not to keep you on life support, whether or not to donate your organs. I don’t see why harvesting sperm or eggs should be any different, and I’m guessing that it’s only because these procedures are relatively uncommon that it’s not already a standard thing included in living wills or organ donor cards.

    In general I think it’s important to separate this individual case of the grief-ridden-and-crazy mother from the larger question of who should be able to make what decisions about our bodies after we die.

  19. This isn’t so bad. People use surrogate mothers and donated sperm/eggs from family members all the time. They also make weird decisions about what to do with the bodies of dead family members, including donating organs, freezing the head, etc. Assuming this lady had the legal authority to both collect and use the sperm in her name (which she did), I don’t see what the problem is. This wouldn’t be as big a deal if it were a young widow doing this — even if said widow also needed a donated egg and surrogate. Or if this woman wanted to use a sperm bank in addition to the donated egg and surrogate.

    What does concern me is the age of the wanna-be grandmother. But she is young enough to adopt/be approved for fertility treatment in most places, has the money to afford the legal battles and fertility clinics, and claims to have received a lot of support in this decision.

    This kid will be fine. Better than that, it’ll be *wanted*……Assuming the procedure works, of course. Who knows if the sperm is still viable?

  20. @marilove: Lots of children have fathers that don’t know they exist. I expect it would be slightly better than to think he knew and didn’t care. I often wondered why my father, who was married and had a child by his wife a few months after I was born to his unwed teenage babysitter, never bothered to check up on me.
    Everyone is different. Some kids might thrive knowing their grandmother wanted them so badly. Some would resent that pressure. Me, I think we have too many people in the world from people going about it the “natural” way.

  21. I myself don’t really care what happens to my body when I’m dead. I have things I want to happen such as organ donation but as for what not to do to my body I could care less. Piss on it, skull fuck it, as long as you aren’t hurting anyone else I couldn’t care. But that’s just me.

    As a general rule if someone doesn’t give express consent then it’s a violation. Nor is this the way to grieve. I can’t imagine the crazy slurry of emotions and psychological effect happening in this woman’s head but there has to be some law to stop this.

  22. @maralenenok: isn’t there usually an unspoken assumption in place that once we die we get buried, the end, unless we leave verbal or written instructions to do something else?

    Legally? I don’t think so. If no relatives step forward then it is a disposal problem left to the state to solve however they see fit. There used to be pauper’s graves, but I think most counties now just cremate unclaimed bodies.

    Organ donation is more complicated. The card can be used to make quick decisions in the absence of family and can also be used to override family wishes. Without an organ donation card and with no family could a hospital use the organs? I don’t they ever would, but legally I don’t know that they can’t.

    Personally I’d like to be composted. One last, lingering fart to share with the world.

  23. The saying is “no parent should outlive their children”.

    Not “no parent should outlive their child’s gametes”.

    I’m sorry for her loss, but this is so wrong I don’t even know where to begin.

  24. Gah, I’m entirely torn. I feel for the woman, but it seems icky. But the potential kids wouldn’t exist otherwise, or then would they? I guess that depends on what you believe about existence. Since I don’t believe in a metaphysical soul and I believe we are the product of our genes acted upon by external stimuli, then those kids wouldn’t exist if those genes weren’t used. So once they do exist, I would presume they’d rather exist than not.

    But until they do, does their future potential opinion matter? And if it doesn’t, then nor does it matter what they’d think about having a dead father.

    And also genetically speaking, this woman could be said to be simply looking to continue her genetic heritage, which we’re supposedly all driven to do anyway, so is that really wrong?

    Rationally speaking, I see the logic and it’s their business and not mine. Gut-speaking…ewwwww.

  25. Initial reaction was, uh, weird.

    Second reaction, well does genetic, biological relation to someone really matter that much? Probably not, so not a big deal. (Note: I think my biological father is a jerk, so that sort of shapes my opinion on such matters.)

    But finally, yeah, I think there should be explicit consent from the deceased (before they are deceased, obviously) for such a thing. Isn’t that the case with organ donations? Or can next-of-kin decide that as well?

    I don’t want to speculate on what this woman is thinking, but it does seem like an unhealthy way to grieve. I surely wouldn’t want my lil eggies involved in this!

  26. I’d be bothered by the idea if I were the deceased. I don’t like the idea of my kids being created without my consent, and I really don’t want my mom raising them. I’ve made explicit instructions in my will to make sure this doesn’t happen to the kids I do have, it’s stupid to think I should have to plan ahead for the ones I don’t (and don’t plan on having). As an organ donor I’m not worried about my corpse but as pointed out, this is different, it’s a living person.

    @davew: I think it’s presumptuous to claim this woman has mental health issues. I think what she did was wrong but I understand why she did it.

    @Amy1976: I agree kids should be born to be themselves, nothing more.

    @mahlersoboes: I believe that’s BATSHIT FUCKING CRAZY.

  27. I think the deceased had a presumption of privacy prior to his death which would have impacted his zygotes immediately after his death. My feeling is that his mother violated his privacy and she’s a total creep out bizarroo! (And batshit fucking crazy!)

  28. I think the place I have to go with on this is “Icky.” It’s not precisely immoral or unethical… presumably she’s not going to be using her eggs for this, and there’s the unstated assumption that she’ll raise them as best she’s able, though the kids will carry the weird burden of being their father’s surrogate, it wouldn’t be TOO different from the orphaned kids whose fathers went to war and never met them.

    However, it’s just… icky. “I’m going to make grandbabies from my dead son’s sperm” is… icky.

  29. From a totally heartless evolutionary perspective:

    Should people who didn’t survive long enough to pass on their genetic code pass on that genetic code anyway? That seems to not make a lot of sense to me.

    Also, this seems very gross to me. Everyone grieves int heir own way, but just because technology can now allow grieving people to do creepy things doesn’t mean they should get to.

  30. @shinobi42: but will she even be able to grieve properly? Part of the grieving process is moving on and that can be interrupted when the person is not entirely gone such as people in persistent vegetative states

  31. I can’t begin to imagine what this poor woman is going through. As a Mom, my heart is breaking for her. That kind of grief, as we’re seeing here, makes people do some really, to quote @PrimevilKneivel “Batshit Fucking Crazy” things.
    She wants to hang on to him so badly she’s willing to do something totally desperate. In my opinion this is extreme grief. She isn’t taking into account the impact this may (or may not) have on any child born from this situation.
    How is she ever going to explain this to the child when he/she is old enough to understand? Who’s going to raise the child? Pay for its care?
    Is this woman young enough to care for a child until it is old enough to move out?
    The fucked upedness of how the sperm was acquired is just one aspect of what may turn out to be a total fiasco. I just hope this poor woman gets some help.

  32. Whatever blows her shirt up I say. Crazy people have kids everyday for stupid reasons. So she wants to stimulate the economy and buy some eggs and rent a womb, good for her. As for the resulting children, lots of kids come from weird backgrounds and do just fine. The Nanny State mentality of protecting the unborn is just as creepy as Operation Rescue’s “mission”. It is none of our business.

  33. I don’t have a problem with the idea of harvesting sperm to make a kid after the death of the (potential) father.

    That having been said, it’s one of the weirder things I’ve heard of. I don’t know if you can make an ethical judgment as to the rights of the mother to do this if the question was never put to her son before his death. I’m 42 and no one has ever asked ME that question and frankly I have never thought of it before, so when it comes right down to it, there’s no telling if the guy would have consented to this or not (at least from the information provided to us). If it is true that he wanted kids, he no doubt also wanted to be with them as they grew up, but that inclines me to believe that he at least would have no objections to this kind of thing unless he had some problem with invitro-fertilization or things of that nature.

    As for the kids, well plenty of kids grow up without a father. This isn’t any different from the guy getting killed in a car accident driving home from his girlfriends house after conceiving a child. It’s not like we say “Oh she should have an abortion because now that kid won’t have a father.” and I daresay by the time the kid is grown up, they will have had to deal with more “interesting” medical ethics problems. This kind of thing might be old hat by then. Who knows?

    Besides the creepy factor, I can’t say I see anything fundamentally wrong with this. I think it’s good that we see these kinds of stories now. One of these days it’s going to be possible to clone people (yeah I know there’s a ban but when has THAT ever worked?) and I can certainly see some grief-stricken person who can’t bear the thought of going on without their spouse going to court for the right to clone their loved one. It’s good to think about these questions now.

  34. @Akiko: Crazy people have kids everyday for stupid reasons… As for the resulting children, lots of kids come from weird backgrounds and do just fine.

    Yeah, that’s kind of how I feel about it too. Motivation for procreation is never a factor, and the biological means of achieving it are merely practical considerations.

    She’s chosen to do something unusual, that I personally wouldn’t do, but I really can’t find anything ethically wrong with it. At least no more ethically wrong than any other set of screwed up parents, and frankly I’m not about to try and decide who should and should not breed, no matter my personal feelings on their parental suitability.

    As far as the dead son goes, well, not to put to fine a point on it, but a dead body is just that. I’m not opposed to organ harvesting, and honestly, I really don’t have a problem with prior permission not having been explicitly given. There’s no soul to offend, only the family and friends, and obviously the family is OK with it. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the only consideration that matters.

    The deceased is dead, the family is not. Whatever my family decides to do with my body is OK by me, even if they decide to do something that I wouldn’t have specified. I won’t care, I’ll be dead, and if it makes them happy then so much the better. Even if it’s batshit crazy.

  35. @davew: re: Cloning – I think it would be exactly the same. Since clones don’t pop out fully formed as they do in Science Fiction, then a genetic clone would be of no practical difference. Procreation is procreation, the only thing that differs are the details of how.

  36. When reading this, I thought immediately about something that happened several years back.

    A fellow I know was killed in a motorcycle accident. His wife (who has since become a friend of mine) wanted to have some of his sperm saved so that she could have his child (with the stipulation being that the sperm would be frozen so that she could have some time to grieve and come to terms before going through with it). This was not allowed as he had not left specific instructions allowing for this.

    the difference between these two cases is that you have the spouse asking for something that the deceased may well have wanted, and stipulated that it would be completed AFTER a sufficient amount of time had passed for her to be certain that it wasn’t simply a reaction to grief. In the case described in the post, it’s a mother wanting to hang on to her son after his death – understandable, but probably not the healthiest reason to produce a child.

    It’s odd that the legal differences between Texas and California are sufficient that the saner version of the story is not allowed here, while the version that involves people who are not interested in clear thinking is allowed in Texas.


  37. I keep thinking, though, that while this is probably not the best mental frame from which to be doing this from the mother’s point of view, it seems reasonably likely that, provided that she has the ability to actually raise the kids decently (and let’s face it, we’re seeing a glimpse of her in a very bad and weird time, we have no idea what she is like under normal circumstances), then this will probably turn out okay. Yeah, it’s strange, but so were the circumstances regarding the conception of many of us – people my age just happened to be produced prior to this technology being available, so our parents were screwed up in different ways.

  38. Not to disparage the recently deceased man, whose death I must first and foremost say is a tradegy, however, I’m worried about future, not the past. Suppose she donates this sperm, and there are three boys born from it. Can she try to get legal custody of these kids. That’s what I’m worried about.

    Scenerio 1: NO

    If she has no legal right to try to take custody of these children, then I see it as just her earnest, but possibly misguided, attempt to fulfill her son’s wishes to the best of her ability. I can’t fault her for that. Seeing as how sperm have a short life span in the best of conditions, I don’t think this is something she pondered for days and days. She can’t have a son anymore, but with a little benefitial statistical outcome, maybe someone else can.

    Scenerio 2: YES

    If she can, but chooses not to, then see scenerio 1.

    Scenerio 3: Yes

    If she can, and does, try to take legal custody of any offspring, this would be an atrocity carried out upon the children, a scourge set upon unknowing women, an insult to her son’s name and wishes, and an cruel example of a mother’s love gone awry.

  39. @infinitemonkey: Yeah, I think this would be a lot more reasonable if she just wanted his sperm to be recovered and donated to a sperm bank so he has the chance to reproduce. But the article makes it sound like she very specifically wants the child for herself.

  40. I believe your remains should be disposed of as you see fit, its not cool to go taking someone’s sperm after they’re dead. Sure they won’t miss it, but that’s not really the point, it wasn’t her right.

  41. It’s more of a problem of ethics. I, personally, don’t care what happens to my body when I die – I’m not using it anymore.

    How would you explain this to the offspring once they are old enough to start questioning this kind of thing.

    I say don’t do it because of the ‘ewww’ factor

  42. Well, she has another son, so it’s not like she’s simply desperate to have grandchildren. And if she just wanted another son, she could adopt. After all, if the story ended up with adopting three boys from foster care in honor of her son’s wishes, the story would get much different responses.

    I don’t think this is a situation where the child would be neglected or abused, but I don’t think it’s the best situation. It really does look like she’s trying to clone her son. But the risk is that any resulting child from the sperm won’t be much of anything like her son. One of my friends was born after the death of her sister pretty much just to replace the lost child, and she did feel the bad effects of trying to live up to the legacy of someone she never met.

    As for the ethics of the situation, well, she is the next of kin, as people have pointed out, would be able to make decisions about the donation of his bodily organs or fluids. So theoretically, I can see a family member having the right to harvest sperm or eggs. But, well, it’s not something I worry about becoming common, because it’s so much easier to get sperm from the willing living – along with how I doubt most family members would want to use their loved ones’ gametes after their deaths.

  43. Would I do something like this? No. However, we don’t have much information to make any judgement calls about this women or how she would raise her grandchild.

    The mechanics behind it don’t bother me. As far as I’m concerned, whether the sperm donor is alive or dead doesn’t make much of a difference. I don’t see it as “icky” I see it as a triumph of science.

    This is causing absolutely no harm to the son and we don’t have enough information to know if this would cause any harm to the kids.

    I am very disturbed by the commenters that would refer to a grieving mother as batshit crazy. Maybe she has a mental disorder…maybe not, but we can’t make that judgement based on nothing other than the fact that she didn’t want her son to die and wanted him to have kids.

    My uncle died when I was a year old. I don’t remember him, but I have grown up in the aftermath of a tragic death in the family. My uncle was practically canonized, but the pain his death brought to my family still hasn’t gone away and the effects of his death have rippled to the next generation.

    Any children born into this family (possibly the other son’s kids) are likely going to be effected by this man’s death regardless of whether they are his children or not. They’ll probably hear stories of what a wonderful person he was and how they wish they could have met him. I don’t think it harmed me, I don’t see why that would necessarily harm any children he may father after his death.

    My mother raised me while she was grieving the death of her brother and there are many, many people who raise children while they are dealing with a death. We can’t assume that they’re all too mentally disturbed to raise children just because they are grieving.

    I’m not saying I necessarily approve of this, I’m just saying that we don’t have enough information to say its a harmful situation for any potential children and that’s really all that should matter.

    As for the women, I can’t make any judgement calls on them either because I don’t know why they are doing this. Is it because they want to help? Are they going to be paid? I don’t know.

  44. This does seem pretty creepy to me and a couple of levels, however I’m sure I’ve done creepy/weird/stupid things while grieving. My general feeling is this, if it helps you deal with the loss, I’m for it. Even if it’s creepy sperm collection

  45. @LadyMitris: I was thinking I would be the first voice of reason in this thread, but I see you beat me to it.

    We don’t have enough information to speculate on the woman’s mental state or long term mental health prospect. Other than his murderer’s sentencing, she doesn’t talk much about herself. This also is pretty common, among spouses. One having died, the other harvests the deceased’s gametes (usually sperm). The only twist is that it is a mother instead of a wife. If you are that grossed out by it, than you should tell you family that you do not want your gametes harvested after your death, and fill out appropriate exceptions on organ donation materials, put it in your will, and make sure that you aren’t donating your gonads, of course!

    But really, people, why is it so crazy? About 9% of kids in the US are raised by grandparents already ( This feels like how people talked about test-tube babies back in the 80’s. Some people never got over that, but most people did pretty fast. If you’re creeped out by this, just wait 30 years, until some woman decides she wants to have the child of Charles Darwin and pulls his DNA of some bottle in some museum. Will you try to stop her?

  46. Every once in a while, this community shocks me with the depth of its parochialism.

    To me, this seems like a perfectly reasonable and rational thing for her to want to do. I don’t see the ick or creepy or weird factor here at all. I see a person facing a horrible loss and trying to salvage whatever they can out of the situation.

    If she wants to carry the child herself, so what? It’s the best way to ensure custody. I don’t see what’s freaking people out about this simple biological process. It’s not like she’s fertilizing her own eggs, she’s just incubating. It’s unorthodox, certainly, but there’s no particular taboo being broken here.

    If women want to donate eggs, again, so what? Maybe these women understand how horrible it would be to lose a son to senseless violence, and want to provide whatever help they can to a fellow human being in pain. How is that wrong?

    As for whether this is a good idea psychologically… who knows? Probably, there’s a study out there on whether grandparents deal with the loss of their children better than non-grandparents, or something like that, and if we looked it up we could comment intelligently on whether or not this is a good idea. But even then, people vary.

    As for whether it’s her right… the dead don’t have rights. The living do. So whose rights are being violated?

  47. @FledgelingSkeptic: How is she ever going to explain this to the child when he/she is old enough to understand?

    “Your biological father died before he could have children. I loved him very much, and he had always wanted to have a child of his own, so we made you (insert answers to questions here). It was the best decision I could have made, because you are a wonderful little [boy/girl], and I love you more than anything.”

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