French court rules mother has no right to grandchildren

"We are desperate to have a small piece of [him] that might live on..."
"We are desperate to have a small piece of [him] that might live on..."

Dominique Petithory Lanzmann was determined to see her son's dying wish to become a father fulfilled when she approached the french fertility clinic - Centre d' études et de conservation des oeufs et du sperme (CECOS) - for the right to his previously donated sperm

Having received a terminal cancer diagnosis in 2014, Felix Lanzmann took to donating sperm to the CECOS and had been in the process of making further donations elsewhere in Europe when he had become too sick to travel. 

Felix sadly passed on in 2017, prompting his mother to continue his plan to become a parent.

And despite having not cleared speculation as to whether she had a confirmed surrogate, Lanzmann requested the CECOS transport her deceased son's sperm to another fertility clinic for in vitro fertilization. 

Citing Lanzmann's lack of legal agency of her son's sperm, however, the CECOS refused the mom's request. 

More determined than ever to become a grandparent, the matter was then taken to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), where again Lanzmann was refused the "right to become a grandparent."

"Noting that the right for an individual to decide how and when to become a parent was a nontransferable right and that Article 8 (right to respect for private and family life) did not guarantee a right to become a grandparent, the Court declared the application inadmissible," reads an official ECHR press statement

Since the ECHR is not unlike SA's ConCourt, the recent ruling is final, and sadly, Lanzmann's desire to become a grandparent will remain a dream deferred since Felix was her only child. 

Also see: The future of human reproduction: Designer babies

In favour of posthumous assisted reproduction

And while France has set its own precedent on non-transferrable parental rights, US courts have other thoughts. 

Earlier this year, the case for posthumous assisted reproduction was heard via the case of deceased military cadet Peter Zhu. 

Having met an untimely death at only 21, Peter's parents pursued and acquired the rights to their deceased son's sperm without written evidence. 

"We are desperate to have a small piece of Peter that might live on and continue to spread the joy and happiness that Peter brought to all of our lives," read their emotional statement

Yongmin and Monica Zhu's testimony proved enough for Supreme Court Justice John Colangelo to rule in their favour. 

The court also heard from Zhu's military adviser who testified that Zhu had confided in him regarding his aspiration to become a father. 

"At this time, the court will place no restrictions on the use to which Peter's parents may ultimately put their son's sperm, including its potential use for procreative purposes," the judge said during his ruling.

According to reports, the Zhus have yet to decide whether they'll be attempting IVF using their son's sperm. 

'It’s what I want in his absence'

After the sudden loss of her husband, Australian woman Jennifer Gaffney also took to the legal system for the right to her late husband's sperm with the view of conceiving a sibling for the couple's toddler son. 

"The biggest reason I have for taking on this challenge is to provide [our son] with a sibling, as I know that it will provide him with the opportunity to form the same friendships and bonds that Dan and I formed and treasured with our own siblings," she told the media

After a short stint in Queensland Supreme Court in application for the right to her husband's testicular tissue, Gaffney won her case. 

With the support of her husband's family, Gaffney believes her decision to undergo posthumous assisted reproduction is what her late husband, Dan, would have wanted

"I have firmly formed a view that not only is this what Dan would want, it’s what I want in his absence."

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