Posthumously Conceived Children May Be Eligible for Inheritance Benefits

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled yesterday that children who were artificially conceived using sperm or eggs from a deceased parent are legally entitled to inheritance benefits if the genetic relationship between the deceased parent and the child can rightfully be identified, if the deceased parent agreed to the conception before death, and if the deceased agreed to support the resulting child. At issue is Lauren Woodward, who used the frozen sperm of her deceased husband in order to conceive. Years later, Woodward applied for federal survivor benefits from the Social Security Administration for her resulting twin girls, but the agency denied the children benefits. The case has spurred debate over how government policy and law will be shaped by advances in reproductive technology. Despite the Massachusetts court ruling, the Woodward case will continue to be heard in federal courts.


Washington Post, 1/3/02; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Reports, 1/3/02

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