Justice Cryogenically Delayed is Justice Denied?

The following article by Nils Hoppe, Professor for Regulation in the Life Sciences and a Director of the University of Hannover’s Centre for Ethics and Law in the Life Sciences, appeared in the BMJ Journal of Medical Ethics blog and is cross-posted with permission.


Re JS (Disposal of Body) [2016] EWHC 2859 (Fam)

This unusual and sad case concerns a court application by a 14-year-old girl, JS. In 2015 she was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer which proved terminal and, at the time of her application, she was receiving palliative care as an in-patient at a hospital. The other parties involved in the application were JS’s parents, who were acrimoniously divorced. JS had no direct contact with her father after 2008.

Knowing that she would soon die, JS carried out online research into commercial cryogenic preservation techniques, defined in the judgment as “the freezing of a dead body in the hope that resuscitation and cure may be possible in the distant future”. Such techniques are not uncontroversial, being regarded with scepticism by the majority of the medical and scientific community. They are also not cheap: Continue reading