On the heels of yesterday's serendipitous discovery of Professor Charles Kindrefan, Jr.'s article about assisted reproduction comes this article written by a JAG lawyer, titled "To Be Continued: A Look at Posthumous Reproduction As It Relates to Today’s Military," by Major Maria Doucettperry of the JAG Corps. [Judge Advocate, U.S. Army. Presently assigned as Deputy Chief, Military and Civil Law Division, Office of the Judge Advocate, U.S. Army Europe and Seventh Army]
Major Doucettperry writes: "Permitting families of recently deceased Soldiers to collect semen from the Soldier for the purpose of artificial insemination implicates many moral, ethical, and legal issues. This practice should therefore be limited to cases where the servicemember has voluntarily surrendered a specimen prior to death and has clearly indicated the intended disposition of such specimen in the event of his death or incapacity.
Additionally, military benefit eligibility criteria should be redefined to encompass any children conceived from this process within a specified period from the servicemember’s death. The following Sergeant (SGT) Smith and First Lieutenant (1LT) Perry hypotheticals demonstrate the perplexities raised by unanswered moral and legal questions surrounding sperm cryopreservation as they may be presented in the military arena."
Major Doucettperry cites two specific and factually different hypotheticals. The implications - social, moral, ethical, and economic - are substantial.
Major Doucettperry's first hypothetical concerns SGT John Smith, a twenty-three-year-old Army Reservist who was seriously wounded in Iraq. After being stabilized, he was medically evacuated to Brooke Army Medical Center in Fort Sam Houston Texas, where he was met by his parents and his fiancée. After what appeared to be a miraculous recovery during a two month period where SGT Smith was competently communicating with his family and physicians and had gained enough strength to move about with assistance, SGT Smith’s health began to decline to the point where he entered a persistent vegetative state. Before life support was removed, SGT Smith’s parents, the next-of-kin and attorneys-in-fact pursuant to SGT Smith’s Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, petitioned the hospital to extract SGT Smith’s sperm so that his fiancée may later bear his child.
Major Doucettperry's second hypothetical concerns First Lieutenant (1LT) James Perry, an Army officer stationed at Fort Carson, who received orders notifying him that he would be deploying to Afghanistan in six months. Before deploying, 1LT Perry and his wife visited a sperm bank, where he deposited several specimens. He explained to his wife that he was leaving the specimens as insurance that his legacy and his dream of having three children could be carried out even if he did not come back.