Hundreds of soldiers sign over rights to sperm if they die

By YAEL WOLYNETZ
August 9, 2006 21:46
2 minute read.

 
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With the help of New Family, a human rights group dedicated to advancing family rights in Israel, hundreds of soldiers nationwide have decided to sign biological wills, which determine the ownership of their frozen sperm before they go to battle. "The soldiers are preparing themselves and their families for the worst possible scenario," said Irit Rosenblum, the chairwoman of New Family. Rosenblum reported that as of the beginning of the week over 30 soldiers have turned to New Family asking them for help in this initiative, with responses increasing on a daily basis. "The army is very supportive of this initiative and thinks it is a great idea," Rosenblum continued. She said she believes "a person should still be able to father a child even when he is no longer alive." "We have the power to help people," commented Rosenblum, adding that she calls the project "visionary." The biological wills initiative is only one aspect of New Family's campaign, which attempts to advocate and raise awareness on issues of family rights in Israel. "In Israeli law, there is no recognition of family as a legal unit, or even a law recognizing the basic right to establish a family for any type of couple including same-sex couples, interfaith couples and civil unions," said Rosenblum. "The state of Israel only recognizes the classical definition of marriage, the unity of a man and woman who are married in accordance with Jewish law, and their familial rights," Rosenblum continued. New Family is working hard to modernize this notion, "attempting to reflect what is happening in society when Israeli law is somewhat ancient. When society changes, it is important for the law to be reevaluated," said Rosenblum. The issue of donating sperm falls into the same category because it deals with families that according to Israeli law are out of the "classical" realm. Rosenblum explained that there are two ways of donating sperm - extracting the sperm when the man is alive or a newer technology that enables the sperm to be removed once the man is dead. While Rosenblum noted that the newer form of technology was originally created in the United States, "the situation in Israel is unique because of the war and as a result the technology is very practical." The soldiers sign a biological will that outlines clearly to whom his sperm will be released. In the case of a soldier who is already married or has a serious girlfriend, the sperm is placed in the custody of that individual. When the soldiers are unattached, the case becomes more complicated. If he gives permission for a woman to conceive a child using his sperm, his parents usually become involved in the issue. In those cases, the process involves two crucial aspects, the willingness of the soldier to donate, as well as the willingness of the birth mother to involve the parents of her sperm donor in her child's life. According to Rosenblum, "this is why it is important for the state to make official laws with regard to the issue of future families, so that the rights in this situation will be clearly defined and there will be no questions."

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