Law should permit use of dead men’s sperm, say British ethicists

Men in Britain should be able to donate their sperm after death, according to a group of ethicists who argue that posthumous use of sperm would help infertile couples and relieve the pressure on living donors. However, it would mean that a child’s father would be dead before they were ever conceived.

The shortage of sperm donors in the UK has led to at least 7,000 samples being imported each year, primarily from Denmark and the US, to keep up with the demand from fertility clinics.

Under the new proposal published in the Journal of Medical Ethics, men would be allowed to give consent for their sperm to be extracted when they die and then used to help couples have families.

“We know there is a shortage of sperm donors in the UK and this is one way to address the problem,” said Joshua Parker, a doctor and ethicist at Wythenshawe hospital in Manchester, who makes the case with Nathan Hodson, a doctor at the University of Leicester.