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The Supreme Court on Monday quashed a lower court ruling that a deceased man was the father of a child conceived after his death using frozen sperm.

“It is evident it was a parent-child relation not envisaged under the Civil Code,” said Justice Ryoji Nakagawa, who presided over the case at the second petty bench of the court.

“No parent-child relation in a legal sense can be recognized, given the father died before she got pregnant and there is no possibility (of the baby) being dependent or of receiving inheritance,” he said.

According to the ruling, the child’s mother, now in her 40s, became pregnant using cryogenically preserved sperm from her husband, who died of an illness in 1999, and gave birth to a baby boy in 2001.

The woman filed for registration of the baby as the couple’s son, but municipal authorities rejected it.

The application was rejected under the Civil Code, which does not recognize a baby born more than 300 days after the end of a marital relationship as a child born in wedlock. The woman then filed a lawsuit seeking such recognition.

In a November 2003 ruling, the Matsuyama District Court rejected the lawsuit, saying there is little social awareness acknowledging a deceased sperm donor as a father. It also noted that it cannot be said there was consent on the part of the husband for fertilization.

In July 2004, however, the Takamatsu High Court ruled that such recognition is possible if there was a blood relationship and consent given by the father. The court then concluded that there was such consent, citing testimony by the husband’s mother and other evidence.

The prosecution then appealed.

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