Israel to consider law allowing fallen soldiers' parents to become grandparents

Proponents of the law passing argue that it would honor the fallen soldiers, allowing their legacy to continue on. There are, however, some ethical considerations.

First Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal (photo credit: FACEBOOK VIA MAARIV)
First Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal
(photo credit: FACEBOOK VIA MAARIV)

An Israeli father is pushing for a law allowing parents to use the sperm of their sons who have been killed in the line of duty for in vitro fertilization (IVF).

Amit Ben Yigal was killed in action during a Golani Battalion operation in Ya'bad in 2020. The young combat soldier, merely 21 at the time, died after being hit by stone thrown from a rooftop.

According to the ABC report, the IDF called Ben Yigal's father, Baruch, asking if he wanted to extract Amit’s sperm on the same day that he was informed of his death.

Reportedly, Baruch had known nothing of the option to extract sperm at the time. Nevertheless, he immediately agreed to it.

Still, there remained roadblocks to Baruch being able to give his deceased son a child.

First Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
First Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal (credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)

While Israel has fertilization laws allowing the wives of fallen soldiers to their husband’s sperm for IVF, currently, the same allowance is not granted for the parents of fallen soldiers.

Ben Yigal feels it should be.

"The significance of bringing a grandchild is continuity," Ben Yigal explained, according to ABC. "That there be a child in the world from him — that when this child reaches maturity and marries and makes a family, he will say my father is the hero of Israel, Amit Ben Yigal."

Ethical considerations

While, according to the ABC report, a draft of the law, which would allow 72 hours for a fallen soldier’s spouse or parent to retrieve their sperm, had a large amount of support for its first reading in the Knesset, some ethicists have raised concerns.

In their article, ABC quoted Dr. Gil Segal, a medical ethicist who asked, "What is this child's purpose in life? Is he a living memorial to the dead person, which curtails and narrows his open future?” Indeed, as this is largely unknown territory, it seems likely these will be considerations Israeli politicians will take into account.

“That's a heavy load [for the child of the IVF] to shoulder," Dr. Segal said, according to ABC. Still, Segal highlighted the aspects of Israeli culture that would be conducive to such a law. “In Israel, it's not regular bioethics,” Dr. Segal said. “It's Western bioethics with a very strong cultural, religious, historical bent."

Apparently, many Israelis agree. ABC reported that Baruch Ben Yigal said that over 5000 women have offered to carry his son’s child.

Ben Yigal feels strongly that Amit’s son would grow up in a great family, regardless of the circumstances of his birth. The woman who has Amit’s child would “get me as grandfather and she’ll get [Amit's mother] as a grandmother” to the child, Ben Yigal said, according to ABC. "[The child] will have a lot of family — they won't be alone."