A proposed bill in the Maryland legislature would make it illegal to use a dead person's sperm or eggs to reproduce without a notarized agreement from the donor. If the bill is passed, violators could face a $1,000 fine for a first offense.
The bill aims to clarify a legal gray area created by in vitro fertilization, a procedure introduced in the late 1970s that allows women to become pregnant using frozen sperm and eggs donated months, even years earlier. It would also allow children born within two years of a biological parent's death to receive inheritance, as long as the parent consented.
Just this week, U.S. Supreme Court justices were divided on whether twins conceived with frozen sperm and born 18 months after their father's death were eligible for Social Security survivor's benefits, the Baltimore Sun reported.
"Nobody knows what's enforceable, what's conscionable or what makes sense," Sen. Dolores Kelley, a Baltimore County Democrat who sponsored the bill, told the Sun.
The first report of post-mortem sperm retrieval dates to 1980, and involved a 30-year-old man who was left brain dead after a car accident, according to the journal Human Reproduction. In 2010, Missy Evans of Bedford, Texas, retrieved sperm from the body of her 21-year-old son Nikolas in hope of becoming pregnant with her own grandchild.
In the 1990s, the Maryland General Assembly passed a bill banning the use of sperm from deceased donors entirely - legislation later vetoed as an intrusion into parents' private decisions, the Sun reported. The issue has remained largely untouched until now.
The bill applies only to donors known by the person wishing to conceive, such as a widow hoping to conceive with her late husband's sperm. It does not apply to anonymous sperm and egg donors.