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A woman has given birth to a baby through artificial insemination using sperm from her husband that was kept frozen after his death, it was learned Tuesday.

It is the first birth of its kind in Japan, experts say.

The case is likely to stir controversy because there is no consensus on whether it is ethical to have a baby in such a manner without prior consent from the man involved, experts said.

Members of a health ministry panel working on fertility issues have basically agreed that frozen sperm, ova and fertilized eggs should be discarded if their donors and holders die.

The panel has not yet discussed, however, what should be done with the sperm, ova and fertilized eggs when spouses seek their use after the deaths of their partners.

The woman, identified only as a resident of western Japan, gave birth to a baby boy in May 2001, sources close to the case said, adding that her husband died in September 1999.

She has filed a suit with a local district court demanding that the boy be registered as the legitimate son of the deceased man, the sources said.

The woman decided to take legal action after the city where she resides refused to register the child according to the Civil Code, which stipulates that a baby must be born to a woman within 300 days of the end of her marriage if it is to be registered as a child of the couple, the sources said.

Sperm-freezing technology was established about two decades ago and is widely used by sperm banks.

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