Making babies with the dead

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I am not referring to necrophilia. Science has made it possible for women to freeze their eggs to be used in the future when they are "ready" to have children, and even to extract viable sperm from a dead man's body within approximately 7 days from his death.

There are many ethical questions. The question that I have in my mind isn't about whether we should or shouldn't extract them and freeze them, but this: if your spouse or beloved passes away, would you make a baby using her eggs or his sperm?

The baby is the product of his/her genes and perhaps by having the baby you would feel that he/she is not dead but lives on through the child. The child might even look like him/her. Is it good to continue seeing him or is it better to move on?

On one hand, it may seem selfish to bring a child into the world to grow up without the love of one parent and not even know his/her own biological parent. On the other hand, isn't it selfless to go through the challenges of raising the child alone and the result of it is genetic survival?

I don't have personal experience with my beloved passing on. I don't think I can even start to imagine how sad and painful it might be. I visited my aunt in Melbourne recently. Her husband - my uncle - passed away 8 years ago but she still misses him badly and can't bring herself to give his old clothes away. She has 2 children - a son and a daughter. Her son has 3 sons. I asked her about how she felt about the importance carrying on the family name. Although she didn't agree with the practice of the wife having to take the husband's surname/last name, she would insist that her grandsons maintain their surnames, i.e. her husband's surname (there were disputes about surnames because of divorce and re-marriage). Carrying on the family name is essentially carrying on one's genetic material. The surname is "proof" of existence of a father's genetic material. I think many people do care about it especially when their loved ones are no longer alive.

In this era, survival may not be an matter of survival of the physically fittest; genetic material can survive long after the person is dead. Those who genetic material can survive are those who are able to:
- psychologically and emotionally influence their partners to be willing and dedicated to the cause of propagating their genes, and
- select partners that are fit and resourceful enough to sustain and even "create" your children after they are gone.

Related post:
[How many children do you want?]

2 comments:

David said...

Yu-Kym,

The situation you describe with your Aunt is anecdotal. The issue of babies being born from frozen embryo's or sperm from a deceased spouse has been debated endlessly here in the States.

It remains an individual decision. Some families do freeze embryo's on the chance that something unfortunate might happen.

An interesting topic, you Aunt is still mourning her husband. Grieving is not a short process and can go on for years.

Keep your Aunt in your thought's and remember those who have left you in this life.

You carry the genes of your parents, who one day will pass from this world.

David

Yu-Kym said...

Unlike in the US, it's not common in Singapore at the moment.