Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Life after death: a seminal decision

While public outrage over the sexual peccadilloes of the Israeli president has come to a head and Moshe Katsav is to be forced out of office after abusing his position and allegedly raping employees, there is surprisingly little controversy about an unnatural sexual practice that can provide grandchildren from beyond the grave.

This is not your ordinary test-tube granny.

It might seem inconceivable, but a judge’s ruling in Ramat Gan this week has opened the door to necro-paternity in Israel. Rachel Cohen, a grieving mother whose soldier son was shot dead by a sniper in Gaza some four years ago, had insisted that the morgue harvest her 20-year-old boy’s sperm and freeze it. She battled successfully in court to claim his seed from the hospital, even though her son Keivan had left no such instructions. Now a surrogate mother, who never even met Keivan, has volunteered to try and carry a long-delayed grandchild to term and surrender it to the dead soldier’s family.

This sounds like some ghoulish plot twist from a Stephen King novel, but the ruling is being portrayed as a landmark in family rights. The family disclosed that 200 patriotic Israeli women came forward to be impregnated, and they selected a healthy 25-year-old for this remarkable labour of love.

"The drama is international, that mankind is able to continue after [a man's] death and his family can raise a new generation while he is no longer here," Irit Rosenblum, the family’s lawyer, told reporters. Rosenblum views this as a life-affirming war time trend. Before heading to battle in Lebanon last summer, some 100 IDF fighters either left behind sperm samples, or requested that post-mortem extractions be provided to their spouses, she said. Apparently, numerous American soldiers also deposited samples in sperm banks before deployment to Iraq. But that seems fundamentally different from a distraught mother acquiring the seed from her son’s corpse.

"Every time I go to his grave and touch his cold tombstone I tell myself how wonderful it would be to hold a warm child in my arms instead," Rachel Cohen said. "For Keivin it was his soul's desire to have children.”

All this is rather chilling. To me, adoption seems a far better option than quasi necro-incest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved your coinage of 'necro-paternity'! Glad you didn't go into gruesome details of how they extracted the poor dead soldier's sperm.