Parents fail in bid to harvest brain-dead teen’s sperm

Another chapter in the Wild West of reproductive technology ended abruptly on Thursday. A brain-damaged 19-year-old man, Rufus McGill II,  died in Roanoke, Virginia, after his life-support system was removed at the request of his parents.

This doomed their attempt to harvest his sperm so that they could have a grandchild. "I just think there's a mission for his dad and I," his mother Jerri McGill told the Roanoke Times earlier in the week. "This happened for a reason. There's no doubt in my mind that he would want this."

The 19-year-old had been the driver of a car which crashed on October 11. A 15-year-old girl also died. Oddly enough, the McGills are divorced, albeit amicably. But they did agree on their desire for a third generation. They even found a urologist who was willing to harvest the sperm.

However, the legal hurdles proved too great. Since the 19-year-old was legally an adult, his parents no longer had authority to permit sperm harvesting. "If his wishes regarding having children cannot be reliably identified, the matter is concluded and the parents' request should be refused," said Laurence McCullough, a bioethicist at Baylor College of Medicine. "There is very strong agreement in bioethics that one's reproductive rights include the right not to procreate."

Ironically, perhaps, if their son had been two years younger, as his guardians, they might have been able to get a court order for the sperm. 

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