Haifa Court Allows Woman to Use Frozen Sperm of Deceased Man She Never Met

A woman can become pregnant using the frozen sperm of a deceased sperm donor whom she did not know. This was the ruling by a domestic relations court in Haifa in a precedent-setting case, which overturned the state's objections.

The ruling makes it possible for someone other than a deceased sperm donor's spouse to use his sperm.

The court was asked to weigh in on a case involving a woman's desire to be a mother, and the desire of the deceased man and his parents for another generation in their family - along with the interests of both the baby and the general public. In the end, the court ruled that the various interests complemented one another.

"It is a courageous and reasonable decision," the father of the deceased man said.

The case arose after the sperm donor, Idan Snir of Kiryat Bialik, died in 2007 of cancer at the age of 22. Shortly before beginning chemotherapy treatments, he deposited his sperm in a sperm bank. In the court's opinion, Snir was quoted as saying that in donating his sperm he was "giving his parents their grandchildren in a plastic cup."

Eight months after Snir's death, a 39-year old single woman, an economist, approached Snir's parents, who had cared for him during his illness, asking if she could use their son's sperm to get pregnant. The parties signed an agreement for the use of the sperm, however Rambam Medical Center in Haifa and the state objected, saying the arrangement was contrary to the attorney general's directives limiting sperm of a deceased donor to his spouse.

The woman filed a lawsuit through the New Family Organization. In response, the state argued that Snir's intention to have children after his death had not been proven, adding that depositing sperm in a sperm bank prior to chemotherapy is standard practice to avoid infertility problems.

Judge Esperanza Alon ruled that the question brought up in the case was not addressed by current legislation. She noted the primary role of Snir's parents in his life and their knowledge of his hopes and intentions. She ruled that Snir's interests as well as those of his parents and the woman seeking to be the recipient of his sperm all complemented one another.