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Is Interference with a Corpse for Procreative Purposes a Criminal Offence?
Modern Law Review  (IF1.779),  Pub Date : 2021-09-22, DOI: 10.1111/1468-2230.12696
Lisa Cherkassky

An increasingnumber of court orders from grieving women seek the retrieval of sperm from their deceased husbands, fiancés or boyfriends for the purposes of procreation. The legality of the retrieval of gametes from a dead body is unclear in the United Kingdom, and other jurisdictions have similarly confusing jurisprudence on the matter. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 requires the informed consent of both gamete providers before fertility treatment can commence, rendering the act of electro-ejaculation upon a dead body a pointless (and potentially sexual) violation. This article takes a unique look at the legality of posthumous gamete retrieval and its contradiction to our shared respect for the dead. It suggests that when carried out upon a dead body without a lawful excuse, electro-ejaculation may offend public morality and could constitute a criminal offence of ‘sexual penetration of a corpse’ under section 70 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.