Dead man's sperm ordered destroyed But stay issued so man's lover can appeal

December 10, 1992|By Los Angeles Daily News

LOS ANGELES -- A judge has ruled that 15 vials of froze semen left at a sperm bank by a Malibu, Calif., man who later committed suicide must be destroyed, but he granted a 60-day delay so the man's former lover can appeal the decision.

But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Edward M. Ross did not

explain why he ruled yesterday that sperm left behind by William Everett Kane for his girlfriend, Deborah Ellen Hecht, 37, should be destroyed.

He said only that other options were "not satisfactory" and that an appellate ruling is needed to bring the law up to date with science.

"Obviously, we're all agreed that we're forging new frontiers because science has run ahead of common law," Judge Ross said.

"We've got to have some kind of appellate decision on what should be done," he added, granting Ms. Hecht a 60-stay of his order so she can take her case to the appellate courts.

Outside the courtroom, one of Ms. Hecht's lawyers, Marvin Rudnick, said that he was outraged that Judge Ross would not listen to his arguments.

"Obviously, we're very concerned that the judge took a position that's directly opposed to constitutional law," Mr. Rudnick said. He accused the judge of running a "prairie court" and ducking the issues.

He said that medical science is on Ms. Hecht's side and Judge Ross overlooked that.

Attorneys said that Mr. Kane spent six weeks preparing for his suicide, including making a bequest that the sperm be given to Ms. Hecht so she could get pregnant. He died Oct. 30, 1991.

But Mr. Kane's children -- represented by attorney Sandra McMahan Irwin, Mr. Kane's ex-wife and their mother -- contested his will and petitioned the court to order destruction of the sperm.

"Just because we have the technology, like nuclear technology, doesn't mean it's wise to use it," Ms. Irwin said.

"It's better for society, I think. It's better for the children that will be born in the future to have two parents, to have a father that can teach them to throw a curve ball," she said.

Mr. Kane's children, William, 21, and Katharine, 19, are concerned that if Ms. Hecht had Mr. Kane's baby, the child might later establish an inheritance claim.

The children also have filed a wrongful death suit against Ms. Hecht, alleging she assisted in and failed to prevent the suicide of their father.

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