Cryonics, the ‘freezing’ of the human body after death in the hope of reanimation in the future, remains a remote possibility, and yet it is becoming a more popular choice. There has been much academic discussion of the ethics of cryopreservation, however, the legal problems have received little attention. There are, however, several potential current conflicts that might arise, as was illustrated by the case of JS in England, in which a fourteen-year-old girl who sought cryopreservation against her father’s wishes. In the US there have been disputes within families about cryonic preservation, and between cryonics organisations and loved ones of the deceased when there is negligent preservation. Cryopreservation raises questions concerning the law on death and post-humous interests, property in the body, contract law and (potentially) negligence. We argue that, in the absence of proper regulation, cryonics organisations may be able to exploit the dying and dead. The potential legal problems that we have identified in relation to the law in England and Wales demonstrate that the law is ill-equipped to protect the interests of the dead and their next of kin.
|Journal of Law and the Biosciences
|Early online date
|9 Nov 2023
|Published - 9 Nov 2023