- A judge has allowed the parents of a deceased West Point cadet to use their son’s sperm for reproductive purposes.
- The family claims their son long dreamed of having kids and says this will allow for his legacy and family name to be carried on.
- The ruling has raised several ethical concerns over whether or not it is okay to posthumously reproduce without someone’s consent.
Judge Rules That Sperm Can Be Used
A New York Supreme Court justice ruled that the parents of a West Point cadet who died in March can retrieve his sperm and use it for reproductive purposes.
Peter Zhu was injured in a skiing accident in on February 23. Four days later, the 21-year-old was pronounced brain dead.
However, because Zhu was an organ donor his body was kept alive for a few more days. During this time, his parents, Yongmin and Monica Zhu received a court order that allowed for his sperm to be retrieved as doctors were removing his organs for donation. At this time, it was unclear if they would actually be able to use the sperm.
Mr. and Mrs. Zhu claimed that it was their son’s wish to have children. They said that using his sperm would allow for the family name to be carried on and keep their son’s legacy alive.
In the judge’s ruling, there are several claims that Peter Zhu would often talk to his parents about “his dream of having several children, and the responsibility he felt to carry on his cultural and family legacy.”
On May 17, Justice John Colangelo granted his parents the right to use his sperm.
“At this time, the Court will place no restrictions on the use to which Peter’s parents may ultimately put their son’s sperm, including its potential for procreative purposes,” he wrote in the ruling.
As of now, it is unclear what kind of plans Mr. and Mrs. Zhu have for using the sperm, and it looks like they might wait before using it.
Justice Colangelo added in his ruling that when and if they choose to use it, it would not tarnish their son’s legacy.
“Should his parents choose to do so in the future, it would not do violence to his memory,” he wrote.
Case Raises Questions of Ethics
This ruling raised questions many have been asking for a long time regarding the ethics of posthumous procreation.
The first posthumous retrieval of sperm was reported back in 1980, and the first birth as a result of the process was reported almost two decades later in 1999. Since these cases, many have questioned whether or not consent from the deceased should be required before using their genetics to reproduce.
In Zhu’s case specifically, his parents did not have his direct permission to use his sperm in the event of his death. However, Mr. and Mrs. Zhu cited a paper he wrote at school, where he said his dream in life was to get married, have kids, and pursue a career in the military.
Several reports have been written over the years on this topic with differing opinions as to whether or not this would be enough consent to carry out the process.
A peer-reviewed journal report published in the year 2000 called Human Reproduction noted that there are grey areas.
“Written consent or verbal consent documented by a health care provider is not an absolute requirement, although such documentation would be desirable,” the report concluded.
The report did expand upon its point and acknowledged that while family members might have conflicts of interest when it comes to using the sperm, there are still cases when it could be ethical.
“It is possible that in some cases a reasonable inference can be made if the patient has previously discussed these matters with family members,” the report continued.
However, a 2018 ethics report from the American Society for Reproductive Medicine emphasized a stronger need for consent.
“Posthumous gamete (sperm or oocyte) retrieval or use for reproductive purposes is ethically justifiable if written documentation from the deceased authorizing the procedure is available,” their report says.
But it goes on to make one exception, saying “In the absence of written documentation from the decedent, programs open to considering requests for posthumous use of embryos or gametes should only do so when such requests are initiated by the surviving spouse or partner.”
In most cases where someone asks to use a sperm or embryo posthumously, the request is usually coming from a surviving spouse. However, Zhu’s case is not the first involving a request from parents.
In 2007, a court in Iowa granted a request by parents to retrieve their son’s sperm so that they could donate it to their son’s fiance.
A judge in Texas granted a mother the right to have her son’s sperm retrieved when he died at the age of 21 in 2009. She intended to hire a surrogate to carry his child.
Next Steps for the Zhu Family
Now that a judge has made a ruling, there are several steps for Mr. and Mrs. Zhu to take that could be complicated.
According to the New York Times, finding a surrogate willing to carry the baby may not be easy. The same goes for finding a fertility clinic willing to give the sperm to the surrogate so the baby can be raised by its grandparents.
The Times also reported that some hospitals have restrictions on how long they are willing to hold the sperm of a deceased person.
But Westchester Medical Center, which is in the county the ruling was given in, gave a statement to the Washington Post about the situation.
“From time to time, like most hospitals, Westchester Medical Center is presented with complex legal and ethical situations where guidance from the court is appropriate and appreciated,” they said before adding that they are “grateful the family sought a court order during such a difficult time.”
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (TIME) (Washington Post)
Harvard Rescinds Parkland Student’s Admission Over Racist Remarks
- Harvard rescinded the admission of former Marjory Stoneman Douglas student Kyle Kashuv after it became aware of racist comments he made about two years ago.
- Kashuv posted a Twitter thread about the situation, prompting people on both sides of the political aisle to speak up.
- Some said Harvard made the right call, while others found the situation to be unfair.
- Harvard has rescinded applications over racist comments in the past and has not made a statement about their decision with Kashuv.
Kashuv Says Harvard Revoked Admission
Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv claims that Harvard University revoked his admission after old racist comments he made surfaced online.
Back in May, comments Kashuv made about two years ago in a Google doc study guide and in a Skype chat appeared online and were reported on by the Huffington Post. The comments included the repeated use of the n-word, as well as anti-Semitic language.
Since the 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, which left 17 people dead, Kashuv has been an outspoken guns-rights and school safety activist. He has had meetings with President Donald Trump and has become a prominent conservative figure.
He stepped down from a leadership role in Turning Point USA, a conservative non-profit student organization, after his former high school classmates threatened to leak these racist comments. He announced his departure in May and said he was stepping down because he wanted to focus on passing gun legislation.
On Monday, Kashuv posted a Twitter thread addressing the comments, as well as Harvard’s decision to rescind his admission. He also re-issued an apology that he made in May when the comments picked up attention.
He then addressed the effects the incident has had on him since being picked up by the media. He also shared a letter from Harvard where the school asked for an explanation, but said that they have the right to withdraw an offer of admission.
He responded to the letter by apologizing for the comments and said he has grown since then. Kashuv said he is trying to be a better man to honor the friends he lost during the Parkland shooting. He also reached out to the schools Office of Diversity and Inclusion about his comments and about how to right his wrong.
He then goes on to say that Harvard decided to rescind his admission after receiving his letter of explanation, but he received a separate email from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
Kashuv then asked for a chance to speak in-person with Harvard, but the school declined.
9/ After receiving Harvard’s letter revoking my acceptance, I responded by asking for the opportunity to have an in-person meeting to make my case face to face and work towards any possible path of reconciliation.— Kyle Kashuv (@KyleKashuv) June 17, 2019
Harvard responded by declining my meeting request. pic.twitter.com/rdsGU7BhjD
Kashuv then addressed Harvard’s own past with previously employing slave owners, and argued that if they have grown, so can he. As of now, he also added that he does not know what his next steps will be as far as attending college next year.
Responses to the News
After posting this thread, Kashuv’s story made headlines and began trending on Twitter, prompting reactions from all sides of the political aise.
A Boston College professor said that since Harvard is a competitive school, his spot should be filled with someone who has not made these mistakes.
Adam Best, who hosts a podcast called The Left said that the right should not be reacting so heavily to this if they did not react to the shooting that so heavily impacted Kashuv’s life.
Comments that controversial right-wing figure Laura Loomer made back in May came up. She allegedly advocated for Kyle to be removed from Harvard.
On the other side, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch believed this was a political attack from Harvard.
Conservative teen activist CJ Pearson said he was able to forgive Kashuv’s words.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro said that Harvard’s choice sets up an impossible standard.
Daughter of the late Senator John McCain, Meghan, spoke on the View saying that she fell down the middle on this issue. She said that while she thinks that some of Harvard’s decision was related to internet mob culture attacking Kashuv for his pro-gun views, she also does not think that his actions were acceptable.
“I had a really hard time coming up with how I feel because I really don’t think it’s too much to ask to not say the N-word from young people,” she said.
This is not the first time Harvard has rescinded the admission of a student based on racist remarks. In 2017, the school revoked the acceptance of ten students over comments they made in a Facebook group for students accepted into the school. Those comments included jokes about race, religion, and sexual violence, as well as racial and anti-Semitic slurs.
Right now, Harvard has not made a comment about Kashuv’s admission.
See what others are saying: (Vox) (Fox News) (Boston Globe)
Alex Jones Accused of Sending Child Porn to Lawyers of Sandy Hook Victims
- Attorneys for the families of Sandy Hook victims who filed a defamation lawsuit against Alex Jones said they were given emails from an Infowars account that contained child pornography.
- During a segment of his show on Friday, Jones said that he had been set up by the families’ lawyers.
- The attorneys, in turn, accused Jones of threatening one of the lawyers representing the families and distorting what actually happened.
- Since April 2018, Jones has been involved in three separate defamation cases filed by the families of Sandy Hook victims over his efforts to spread the conspiracy theory that the 2012 elementary school shooting never happened.
Sandy Hook Lawsuits Against Alex Jones
Lawyers representing the families of Sandy Hook victims in a defamation lawsuit against far-right commentator Alex Jones said that they found child pornography in emails from an account for Jones’ show Infowars that had been turned over to them by his legal team.
Jones has famously supported the conspiracy theory that the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School never happened, even going as far as to say that “no one died” in Sandy Hook.
In April 2018, two families whose children were murdered in the Sandy Hook shooting filed two separate defamation suits against Jones. The next month, six other families and an FBI agent who responded to the shooting filed a third defamation suit.
All three of the lawsuits say that Jones’ efforts to spread conspiracy theories about the shooting had lead to the families of the victims being harassed, stalked, and threatened.
In January 2019, a judge overseeing one of the cases ruled that Jones had to turn over Infowars’ financial documents as well as thousands of emails. The next month, the same judge decided that Jones would be required to make a sworn deposition.
Jones gave a three-hour long deposition in March, where he admitted the deaths were real, and said, “I, myself, have almost had like a form of psychosis back in the past where I basically thought everything was staged, even though I’m now learning a lot of times things aren’t staged.”
Lawyers Find Child Porn in Infowars Emails
In court documents filed Monday, the lawyers representing the Sandy Hook families said that when their legal team went through the Infowars emails, they found that the email metadata contained “numerous images of illegal child pornography.”
According to the legal documents, after finding the images, the legal team “immediately contacted the FBI.”
“The FBI directed counsel to give control of the entire document production to the FBI, which was done,” the lawyers wrote. “The FBI advised counsel that its review located numerous additional illegal images, which had apparently been sent to Infowars email addresses.”
The attorney’s also added that if Jones’ legal team “had engaged in even minimal due diligence and actually reviewed the materials before production, they would have found the images themselves,” continuing, “Because the Jones Defendants did not do that, they transmitted images to the plaintiffs that if they were knowingly possessed is a serious federal crime.”
Jones Responds in Show
The court documents said that the plaintiff’s legal team told Jones’ lawyer, Norm Pattis, about finding the child pornography. Pattis then told Jones, who talked about it on The Alex Jones Show on Friday.
“The FBI looked at and said we’re the victim, it was hidden in Sandy Hook emails threatening us, that was child porn,” Jones said. “So it’s on the record we were sent child porn we’re not involved in child porn.”
However, Jones appeared to contradict that statement shortly after by claiming that the emails were planted by the families lawyers. “You’re trying to set me up with child porn, I’m gunna get your ass,” Jones said, after firing off a series of expletives
A little later, Jones specifically named one of the attorneys that represents the families, Chris Mattei. Jones showed a picture of Mattei’s face, then slammed his fist on the photo. “What a good American, what a good boy,” Jones said mockingly. “I’m gonna kill…” he yelled, then trailed off.
Plaintiffs Accuse Jones of Threatening Mattei
In the same court document from Monday, the attorneys for the Sandy Hook families accused Jones of threatening Mattei and his firm.
“Alex Jones broadcast two segments of The Alex Jones Show identifying Attorney Chris Mattei by name and showing a picture of him, falsely claiming that Attorney Mattei tried to frame Jones by planting child pornography in discovery materials produced by Jones, distorting what actually occurred in the discovery process in this case,” the lawyers wrote.
“Here, threats against counsel have been made on air to a very large audience,” they added.
Pattis reportedly responded in a statement claiming that Jones did not threaten Mattei, and said Jones apologized for the statements he made on his show the next day.
Also during his show on Saturday, Jones said: “I’m not saying that the lawyers for the Sandy Hook families set me up or did this.”
Editor’s Note: At Rogue Rocket, we make it a point to not include the names and pictures of mass murders or suspected mass murderers who may have been seeking attention or infamy. Therefore, we will not be linking to other sources, as they may contain these details.
Phoenix Mayor Apologizes After Police Pull Gun on Family in Shoplifting Confrontation
- The mayor and police chief of Phoenix are apologizing after newly released video shows officers using excessive force against a family whose daughter stole a doll from a dollar store in May.
- The footage shows officers yelling orders at the parents and pointing a gun at the family’s car while threatening to shoot.
- The family’s attorney is accusing the officers of battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress and violation of the family’s civil rights, and says the family is willing to settle the case for $10 million.
The mayor of Phoenix apologized on Saturday after footage emerged showing police officers drawing their weapons on a couple whose 4-year-old had stolen a doll from a local dollar store.
The incident happened at the end of last month when Dravon Ames and his pregnant fiancee, Iesha Harper, took a trip to a Family Dollar store with their two young daughters. According to the couple, they were unaware that their 4-year-old had at some point taken a doll from the store with her back to their car.
Police say they were tipped off about an alleged shoplifting incident by a store employee. Police then found the couple about a mile away at the apartment complex of their babysitter.
What followed as a heated standoff that was captured in now-viral cell phone footage. Video shows the officers shouting profanities at the parents. Officers can be heard telling the couple to put their hands up. “You’re gonna get fucking shot. Get your f*cking hands up.” one officer said.
While one officer points a gun at her, Harper says the car door was malfunctioning, making it difficult for her to exit the car. The couple’s 4-year-old daughter eventually exits from the back seat. Her mother follows, with her 1-year-old in one arm. An officer yells at her to hand the child over and grabs at the child.
A police incident report says the officers feared the mother was “hiding something” or was reaching for a weapon.
The parents have now filed a notice of claim over the incident. Thomas Horne, the lawyer representing the couple, said the officers committed battery, unlawful imprisonment, false arrest, infliction of emotional distress and violated of the family’s civil rights. In a letter sent to the city last week, he said the family is willing to settle the case for $10 million.
The claim says that officer’s injured the 1-year-old child by pulling on one of her arms when Harper refused to follow an officer’s order to hand over the child.
The filing also claims Ames was thrown against a car and kicked so hard that he collapsed. Then an officer “kept his knee between the father’s legs. He punched the father very hard in the back for no reason,” Horne said.
The claim adds that after Haper handed over her baby to a bystander, the officers placed her and her partner under arrest and said: “I could have shot you in front of your f*cking kids.”
The couple’s attorney said the actions were “traumatic and utterly unjustified.”
On Facebook, authorities said Ames admitted to stealing a pack of underwear and throwing it out the window of the car. He also allegedly said he was driving with a suspended license. But Horne says the couple denies telling officers that Ames had stolen underwear.
Neither side can even agree on the day the incident took place. The family’s claim said the incident happened on\ May 29, but police officers said it happened May 27. Police also said they were only made aware of the video on June 11.
The doll was returned to Family Dollar, according to officials. No charges were issues over the shoplifting, however, authorities issued Ames a traffic ticket for driving on a suspended license and impounded his car.
“I do want you to know that I expect our employees to maintain their professionalism and proper training at all times,” she added.
Williams also asked that the officers be taken off the street and placed on desk duty.
Mayor Speaks Out
Mayor Kate Gallego said she was “sick” over what she had seen in the video, which has since picked up national attention. “It was completely inappropriate and clearly unprofessional,” she said.
“There is no situation in which this behavior is ever close to acceptable. As a mother myself, seeing these children placed in such a terrifying situation is beyond upsetting.”
Mayor Gallego has called for a community meeting on June 18, where the police chief is expected to address the public and answer their questions. She also said that in response to the incident, the city will be speeding up its implementation of body-worn cameras across the entire police department.
Now Jay-Z’s Roc Nation has also offered the family support. Team ROC spokesman Didier Morais said Sunday that the group has offered legal and emotional backing to the family.
“Team ROC has reached out to the family to provide legal support, call for termination of the police officers and ‘ensure the well-being of the children,’”AZ Central reported.
The family’s current lawyer said that if the city doesn’t respond to the claim within 60 days, he can file a lawsuit.