Decision on dead man's sperm not final

ON ICE: The committee formed to consider the ethical and medical issues of the matter said more time was needed and the process should be delayed for present


Wed, Oct 05, 2005 - Page 2

Department of Health Minister (DOH) Hou Sheng-mou (侯勝茂) yesterday briefed the public on the conclusions reached by the committee considering whether Lee Hsin-yu (李幸育), fiancee of deceased Army Captain Sun Chi-hsiang (孫吉祥), should be allowed to proceed with in vitro fertilization procedures using the sperm harvested from his dead body.

Sun died earlier last month after being injured when the armored vehicle he was driving suddenly accelerated and crashed.

Since Sun was an only child and just engaged, his parents and fiancee urged doctors to harvest his sperm so that she could try to have a baby through in vitro fertilization.

Pending a further discussion by the committee, whose members consist of religious practitioners, feminists, social workers and children's organizations, Hou said the majority of the committee members still felt that Lee should not be allowed to go ahead with the fertilization procedure.

In response to questions regarding what was the likely final decision, Hou said, "At present, it will not be possible for Lee to go ahead with the fertilization procedure."

Hou said that the DOH's recommendation at this time was that Lee extend her "thinking period," the same decision reached after the first committee meeting on Sept. 14.

Hou said that their decision was based on research into the human embryo fertilization procedures of 48 countries which revealed that nine countries allow this procedure under the condition that written consent has been given by the deceased party.

Hou however added that conclusions reached at this time did not mean that there was no possibility of future legislation being passed allowing such a procedure to be performed.

Hou also outlined the focus of the bill regarding human embryo fertilization procedures that will be passed tomorrow.

Whilst saying,"the needs of every citizen should be catered for to as full an extent as possible," Hou made it clear that the legislative bill that will be passed tomorrow regarding embryo fertilization would be "aimed at helping married couples who can't have children."

When asked how the DOH would react if laws passed tomorrow allowed parties such as Lee to undergo fertilization procedures, Hou said, "Legislators are selected by the public, which means they represent the public's opinion. As such their decision is to be respected."

Hou also expressed concern for Lee's well being and said that a special team had been established to look after her needs and make sure she was okay. At present she is said to be in a stable condition and has returned to work.