Semen of dead man cannot be used in Germany


Central Europe


The widow of a German man cannot have the semen of her deceased man, the judge said. Photo AFP, Ina Fassbender

The University Hospital in the German Bonn is not obliged to hand over the sperm of a deceased person to his former partner. The Bonn District Court dismissed the 31-year-old woman's complaint on Tuesday.

The then 36-year-old man had sperm cells stored in the clinic in February 2020, Die Zeit reports. He had stated in a contract that the semen could only be issued to him or an authorised person and that they should be destroyed after his death.

Almost two weeks before his death from cancer in February 2022, he also signed a power of attorney that should enable his partner to request the return of the sperm to have herself inseminated. But this was not recognised by the university hospital. When the plaintiff presented the power of attorney in April 2022, the hospital refused to hand over the cells.

The Civil Chamber found in the judgment that the plaintiff had no claim because she had not submitted the power of attorney while the donor was alive. In addition, it said the hospital would have made itself guilty of aiding and abetting a criminal offence by handing over the cells. Because the law on the protection of embryos provides for a prison sentence of up to three years or a fine for anyone who "knowingly artificially fertilises an egg cell with the sperm of a man after his death".


Since the legislature may want to change this paragraph and adapt it to the regulations on surrogacy in other European countries, the clinic promised to continue storing the cells as long as the woman covered the costs. If the law changes accordingly, she can still decide whether she wants to be fertilised by the dead man's seed.



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