July 18, 2019

Having a Baby... Thirty Years After You Die

“More than four years ago, Liat Malka waited anxiously for a sperm sample from a deceased man she had never met to fertilize her solitary egg in a hospital petri dish. The Israeli kindergarten teacher hoped to undergo in vitro fertilization and was disappointed when, in the first attempt, her egg and the donor sperm failed to create a viable embryo. The next month, though, brought success. Malka had the embryo transferred into her uterus and nine months later gave birth to Shira, whose name was chosen because it means both “song” and “prayer” in Hebrew.

Sometimes, Shira looks at a picture of her father. In a two-bedroom apartment in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon that she shares with her mother and grandmother, Shira has grown up seeing this man smiling back at her with a wide grin and kind, bespectacled eyes. When she was younger, she called him by his first name, Baruch. Recently, Malka has been trying to get her to call him Daddy. “Look how nicely he smiles. That’s Daddy,” says Malka, gently, as they stand in front of the photo.

Over the past two decades, posthumous reproduction has occurred throughout the world in modest but growing numbers. In this version of assisted reproduction, men donate their genetic material in life, or have it extracted after death, so that they may continue their genetic lineage. Experts predict that the number of these procedures is likely to increase as reproductive technology gains prevalence and as “alternative families,” composed of combinations beyond the traditional heterosexual, two-parent setup gradually gain acceptance. Israel, an exceptionally pro-natalist country with the highest usage of IVF per capita, is a thriving laboratory for this novel way of family-making.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"The likely successor to British Prime Minister Theresa May, Boris Johnson, has plans to subsume the government department overseeing development aid into the foreign office, effectively eliminating it. That will destroy a post-Brexit United..."

"Gerard Baker, editor-at-large at the Wall Street Journal (no reflexively anti-Trump publication) recently wrote a piece decrying Donald Trump and his foreign policy as a fount of erratic unpredictability. This essay will give the counter view...."

"On Wednesday, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar announced that she will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian territories in the coming weeks. Omar will be accompanied by Rep. Rashida Tlaib. The two freshman congresswomen have become a focal point of..."

"Netflix may have lost US subscribers for the first time since it began making its own shows, but that didn't stop the streaming giant from dropping new figures about how many people are sucked into its Adam Sandler vortex. (Spoiler: More than..."

"A few years ago, Amy Balliett, CEO of a Seattle-based design and marketing firm, noticed that as the work week slogged on, her employees’ energy and productivity wilted. “That would slump to such an extent that the same task on Monday would..."

"Over the last few days the #faceappchallenge has taken over social media. This “challenge” involves downloading a selfie-editing tool called FaceApp and using one of its filters to digitally age your face. You then post the photo of your wizened..."

"Although there are plenty of irrational aspects to life in modern America, few rival the odd fixation on lawns. Fertilizing, mowing, watering — these are all-American activities that, on their face, seem reasonable enough. But to spend hundreds..."

"Can a book change the way we think? I don’t mean that in the sense of a reader’s opinion or ideology shifting—of course the right literary work can do that. But can a book rewire the brain itself, literally changing the way one particular mind..."

"It’s our job to let kids know we see and hear them, but we’re not necessarily going to solve siblings’ conflicts for them (or else they never get the practice). When squabbles start, imagine you’re a sportscaster and describe what you see in..."

"Magali Trejo-Martinez, a 22-year-old living in Salem, Oregon, recently went on a date that was rather uninspiring. “I had dinner, had a couple margaritas, and then went home,” is how she recapped the evening. This outcome wasn’t entirely..."

"The first lunar landing was many things — a D-Day-like feat of planning and logistics, a testament to the power of man's will, an ostensible propaganda coup for NATO. It was also, I think, one of the most misunderstood events in the history of..."

"THE FIRST TIME Bernie Sanders ran for president, he didn’t talk much about being Jewish. In fact, he didn’t talk much about himself at all. His 2016 primary campaign, like his whole political career, was relentlessly focused on one topic: income..."