Icky And Unethical: The Dead Cadet’s Child

A New York judge  ruled that the parents of  West Point cadet Peter Zhu, 21, who was declared brain-dead after a skiing accident, can take sperm harvested from his body with “no restriction.” The parents say they want  to fulfill  their son’s lifelong desire to have children and continue the family name.

Lauren Sydney Flicker, a bioethicist and expert in post-mortem sperm retrieval at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx [there is such a thing as being an expert in post-mortem sperm retrieval?]  told the New York Times,

“Here is the ethical debate, and it will be different for different people: Is it a greater ethical burden to prevent someone from having the opportunity to be a father by passing along their genetic material? Or is it a greater ethical burden to have a man father a child, without his consent, that he wouldn’t be around to raise?”

Huh? I’d say the burden of not living pretty much wipes out the burden of not being a father, and renders it moot. Absent explicit instructions that the young man wanted his sperm used to spawn a child after he died,  the cadet’s desires regarding a family while he was planning on being alive are rendered moot by his death. Continue reading

A Three-Year-Old’s Privacy, Sacrificed For A Story


Showing the excellent ethical instincts that frequently characterize his blog for the Wall Street Journal (though not always), James Taranto accurately identifies blatantly callous and unethical conduct by the New York Times, its reporter, and the adult subjects of a Father’s Day feature called”And Baby Makes Four.”  The story, intended to highlight the proliferation of non-traditional family structures in modern America, focused on a 3-year old boy whose mother conceived him using the sperm of a gay friend.

The Times named and interviewed both the mother and the friend, who often babysits the toddler but professes no desire to ever be a father to him in the parental sense. The Times story describes how the sperm-donor watches the clock in boredom, waiting to be relieved of his child-care duties, and how observing the child—his son— play sometimes fill him with “profound despair.” Continue reading