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Ohad Ben-Yakov, a twenty-seven-year-old Israeli man, was installing an air conditioner at the part-time job he worked to pay for university when there was an accident. It left him in a coma for two weeks, and ultimately caused his death. While he was comatose, his parents had his sperm extracted. Now that he's died, they're trying to get permission to use his sperm to create a child.
And it looks like they just might succeed, pending the decision of the Israeli Attorney General. If the case is decided in their favor, it would be the latest addition to an interesting legal precedent. Nowhere had Ohad written down or indicated a desire to have children, at least not legally. However, the mother of an Israeli soldier killed in 2001 successfully had her son's sperm extracted (which can be done for up to three days after death), and won the right to attempt to create a child, although attempts at in vitro fertilization with a surrogate have been unsuccessful.
Israel is perhaps the world's most boundary-pushing nation when it comes to reproductive technology. They have the best fertility doctors in the world — on average, they're seven or eight times more successful at in vitro fertilization than American doctors. Israeli health insurance covers IVF and they were the first nation to legalize surrogate-mother agreements. And apparently, they're on the verge of recognizing a legal right to grandparenthood.
Judaism has always encouraged followers to "be fruitful," and twentieth-century tragedies like the Holocaust have only fostered a pro-natalist Israeli viewpoint. And a grieving couple's desire to have a grandchild after the untimely death of their son seems, on the one hand, understandable. And, on the other, taboo — the impulse against creating a "replacement child" for a lost son seems to be the same that makes us uncomfortable with human cloning.