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Honorary Onely Award: The Bronx State Supreme Court April 21, 2009

Posted by Onely in Honorary Onely Awards, single and happy, We like. . ..
Tags: , , , ,

Onely is happy to report a refreshingly pro-single bit of news:

A New York woman has won a race-against-the-clock legal bid to harvest her dead fiance’s sperm.

Did you catch that? A SINGLE woman was allowed to harvest her fiance’s sperm after his sudden death!


This was so surprising to us, in fact, that when Christina sent me this article a few days ago, she (ever-the-singlist-vigilant) wrote: “This would never be allowed if she were single.”

But … luckily for singles everywhere, Christina misread the article!

And so, we’re happy to grant the Bronx State Supreme Court an Honorary Onely Award for listening to UNMARRIED Ms. Marrero and allowing her to harvest her fiance’s sperm after his death (which, okay, we both find a little bit gruesome, but to each her own, right?).

There’s just one little catch, though – and we don’t mean to sound negative, but apparently, Ms. Marrero wouldn’t have had a problem harvesting her partner’s sperm after his death if she had been married. Here’s how the article puts it:

As the couple were unmarried she needed a court order…

WHA?? You mean to say that married women automatically have rights to their husbands’  sperm? That’s what it sounds like to ME (though a quick google search did not reveal an easy answer).

Also, how much do you want to bet that the court privileged Ms. Marrero because the couple was ENGAGED to be married, and because she’d already had one of his children?

Alas. No rest for the weary.

— L


1. onely - April 21, 2009

Lisa raises a really interesting point about married women having (ostensibly) automatic access to their husbands’ sperm. If that’s the case, then husbands should also have automatic access to elements of their wives’ bodies. And we know that’s just not right (except apparently in some places where intra-marriage rape is legal). Perhaps spouses have automatic rights to their partner’s bodies only when the partner is dead. Lucky for all those rapist necrophiliacs out there!

Second, I want to say that Lisa and I were wondering what the woman (and we have only kudos for her) is going to tell her child when s/he inevitably asks how s/he was made. “Well honey, sometimes when a man and a woman love each other very, very much. . . ”

Just saying. As always.
–Christina (writing while weary.)

2. Lauri - April 22, 2009

One definitely has to wonder if she would have been granted the same ruling if they had not been engaged. But then I ask, how does one prove they were engaged? and what does engagement mean in a legal sense? As far as I know it means nothing…

While you see this as a triumph for a single woman, I doubt the court saw her as single. That concerns me a bit, because if she had no legal married status, yet was still seen by the court as sort of married because she [claimed to be] engaged, then is it setting a precedent that now ENGAGED couples are going to start getting the same legal privileges as married people-or at least privileges above truly single people? I haven’t read the story yet, but hypothetically, what if the guy’s family didn’t want his sperm to be preserved for whatever reason- would/could the court rule in favor of a fiance? What if the guy WASN’T engaged but the family was really weird and wanted to harvest his sperm in the hopes of donating it to someone and carrying on their family- would the court allow that?

onely - April 22, 2009

HI Lauri —

Actually, the bottom of the same article included this paragraph: “Earlier this month, a mother in Texas won a legal bid to have her dead son’s sperm harvested after he died in a fight outside a bar, so she could have the option of carrying out his wish to have children.” — so yes, to answer your question, yes, apparently the court would allow that!

I do think this is a triumph for single women if only because she wasn’t married — which means, in theory, that other single women (maybe even not-engaged women) could make similar appeals using this particular case as an example. I have no idea how much the engagement issue factored into the court’s decision and am honestly not sure how to find out — what I wrote above is purely speculative. But it’s an important/interesting question nonetheless, and your comment certainly gets at the heart of the issue — are the courts privileging coupled people just for the sake of privileging coupled people, regardless of their “official” statuses? I sure as heck hope not!

I personally feel like no one should have “rights” to anyone else’s body parts (especially reproductive parts) unless an agreement has been signed and documented. Maybe the system should be more like organ donation: If I die, please preserve my sperm/eggs for the general public to take advantage of…

But if the courts are going to allow these “rights” to be granted without these special documents, then I want the system to at least be equal, which it obviously isn’t.

– Lisa

3. bobby - April 23, 2009

I think the important issue is what the two partners want of and for each other. There are so many high horse laws, that are wrong, it makes my head spin. Well, what if the law is wrong to begin with? Then who makes judgment on the case? The same people that make the laws sheeez.

In a grown up world (imagine?), if two responsible adults want the same things for each other as married couples, why not?

4. trauma queen - April 24, 2009

well I dont know much about american laws..but I’m happy. I think Boston legal or one of those law-firm dramas showed something similar (difference being youg woman’s fiance was given the death sentence and she wanted to harvest his sperm before he died)

sigh….I know for a fact I’m dying to skip the wife stage and go straight into the mom stage…but it’ll take forever for that to happen in my country :((((

then again…I guess it’s better if a child has both parents than just one….

onely - April 25, 2009

TQ, I’m so interested to hear that you want to be a mom but don’t necessarily care about the whole “wife” thing. I’ve been wondering about this a lot, ie what people in your situation can do. Currently (in the States too) if you want kids you really are expected to have a partner, because there is little support infrastructure for unmarried parents. Change the infrastructure, and people can raise kids without being forced to first choose a partner (which they may not want in the first place). Don’t ask me HOW to do this, but I sense it can be done. Bella DePaulo writes about how a child doesn’t necessarily need two parents, how that’s not *necessarily* automatically better for the child: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bella-depaulo/in-praise-of-single-mothe_b_48342.html


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