Advancement in reproductive technologies cause legal issues

Two twin boys, born by artificial insemination by a sperm donated by their late father, have been facing difficulties in their attempt to add his surname to their birth certificates.

The twin boys

The twin boys

A Hanoian woman, Hoang Thi Kim Dung, 33, gave birth to the boys on December 9, 2013, by artificial insemination, using sperm from her husband who died three years ago. According to Dung, she and her husband had been in love for seven years before they got married in 2009. However, they had little time together as she studied in France during that time. When their first-born child came in 2010, her husband took care of almost everything so she could focus on her academic career abroad.

After the husband was killed in a train accident, Dung immediately called Le Vuong Van Ve, Director of the Hanoi Andrology and Infertility Hospital, and asked him to store her husband’s sperm so she would be able to conceive his children.

Doctor Le Vuong Van Ve visiting Dung and her new-born children at the hospital Although she did succeed in conception, an unprecedented case in Vietnam, the twin boys are now facing legal troubles in taking their biological father's surname.

Doctor Le Vuong Van Ve visiting Dung and her new-born children at the hospital Although she did succeed in conception, an unprecedented case in Vietnam, the twin boys are now facing legal troubles in taking their biological father's surname.

Nguyen Van Toan, deputy head of Department of Civil Status, Nationality and Certification, said Vietnam still does not have regulations that cover such cases. The mother is considered under the law a single mother because she gave birth while she was single.

Toan added that such situations could be addressed with some revision of the law which currently addresses reproductive technologies.

“However, the article now only applies to infertile couples and single mothers who wish to use donor sperm from anonymous men. It doesn’t mention deceased husbands,” he said.

Currently, they are awaiting for DNA tests to prove that the boys are not illegitimate. But several experts have said the DNA test results will only give proof of the biological father and cannot be used to alter the regulations.

According to Toan, the Ministry of Justice will make necessary adjustments to the regulations in order to keep up with the development of technology and society.

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