As West Palm Beach readers know, a traumatic accident or illness can sometimes leave a person incapacitated and unable to communicate individual wishes about important life decisions. Whether due to catastrophic injury or infirmities of aging, many Florida families will at some point face a decision about establishing guardianship over a loved one.
In most cases, family members petition for guardianship in order to obtain legal authority to handle financial matters or health care choices for a loved one who lacks the capacity to communicate or make sound decisions. In Florida, a court-appointed guardian can be invested with authority ranging from taking care of tasks such as paying bills and managing assets to determining where a protected ward will live or receive medical treatment.
For one family, a tragic accident has left them wrestling not only with the typical responsibilities of a guardian, but with a legal and ethical dilemma that stretches the boundaries of established law. A terrible car accident left 19-year-old Rufus McGill II on life support with doctors believing that he may be brain dead. The young man's parents now hope to keep his memory alive by harvesting his sperm so that it can be used to produce a biological grandson and keep the family bloodline alive.
Although this story takes place in the state of Virginia, the parents' wish may incite a legal and ethical debate that transcends geographical borders. As one legal scholar points out, their request raises questions about the ethics of making the decision to create new life on behalf of another adult as well as concerns about the environment into which a new child would be born.
As it stands, the parents are still searching for an attorney willing to take on the thorny issues presented by their difficult situation. If the parents are able to get their case into court, the outcome could affect the legal significance of guardianship in courts across the nation.