The High Court has given belated permission for a woman to take sperm from a dead man so she can have his baby one day.
In a judgment of Justice Paul Heath, released Wednesday, the High Court at Auckland has allowed a woman, only known as "Ms Long", to have sperm collected from her partner, Mr Lee.
They are described in the judgment "as having been in a stable de facto relationship for some 20 years" and had a baby shortly after Mr Lee died.
While Mr Lee had never expressed a desire for his sperm to be used posthumously, Justice Heath said "they always wanted their first child to have at least one sibling".
"I have no doubt that Mr Lee and Ms Long, together with their respective extended families, intended to provide a stable and loving environment in which their children could be nurtured," Justice Heath says.
"[However], the absence of evidence of express consent from Mr Lee to posthumous use of his sperm raises some important public considerations."
At present there are no statutory or regulatory provisions that deal explicitly with the ability for a person in Ms Long's position to collect and use sperm from a dead partner.
An urgent interim order was granted by the court, via the Coroner, to take sperm from Mr Lee within 48 hours of his death and, at a hearing held on October 30, Ms Long asked that it be used by her in fertility treatment.
Before proceeding with such an application, Ms Lee first needed confirmation of the lawfulness of the initial removal, storage and custody of the sperm.
Whether she is authorised to use her partner's sperm for her own fertility treatment at some future date is a matter for consideration by the Ethics Committee established under the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004.
The court decided that Ms Long was entitled to apply and the nature of the relationship would be considered by the committee.