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Reproduction After Death?....Court Says, "Yes!"

Hi Everyone, Happy Wednesday! I love the opportunity to inform you about interesting legal trends. Reproductive rights is an issue that our courts continuously struggle with, but this story has to do with posthumous reproduction. Yes, you read that right. In February 2019, Peter Zhu, a West Point student, suffered a severe spinal cord injury while skiing. His brain was deprived of oxygen and the 21-year-old was placed on life support. Following the accident, his parents filed a petition in Westchester County, NY requesting permission to retrieve their only child's sperm and save it for reproductive purposes. Zhu was single and had no children. He was an organ donor and according to his parents he always dreamt of becoming a father and carrying on his family's legacy. A procedure was already scheduled to collect Zhu's organs for donation purposes and the judge permitted the sperm retrieval and directed the hospital to store the sperm until further hearing. This case made it all the way to the Westchester County Supreme Court. The Court listened to testimony from Zhu's parents, his military advisor, and took the decedent's intent into consideration. Ultimately, in May 2019, Supreme Court Justice John Colangelo ruled that Zhu's parents were free to do what they wished with their son's sperm. At this time, the court will place no restrictions on the use to which Peter's parents may ultimately put their son's sperm, including its potential use for procreative purposes." As of now, the family has made no decision as to whether they will pursue surrogacy. This case presents many ethical considerations and lays important legal precedent. It also makes me consider what we should be addressing in our estate planning documents regarding storage, ownership, and intent of reproductive materials. With advancing technology perhaps reproductive intent is a necessary component to a comprehensive estate plan. It's certainly something to consider. If you already know that you need to address reproductive intent, storage, etc. in your estate planning documents, please contact us today. Until next time, Amy

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