He wasn't born until nearly three years after his father's death from cancer, but the family of a Utah elementary schooler thinks he deserves some help from the government.
The Salt Lake Tribune says Michael Burns banked his sperm before undergoing treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, and he signed off on having the sperm transferred to his wife, Gayle, in case of his death.
Enter the tearjerker: The 24-year-old died within a year of diagnosis in March 2001.
But Gayle still had the sperm, and later she underwent in vitro fertilization and gave birth to Ian in December 2003.
Now that you're all caught up with the miracle of science, we introduce the complications science is putting to the legal system.
Gayle thinks Ian deserves Social Security benefits -- the sort given to most children under 18 in this country when their father (or mother) passes away.
Only when Michael Burns died, he wasn't a father. There was no child to support, and the government never set up that sort of program.
I hate these sort of stories because it seems cruel to pick on a parent who has gone through so much. Gayle lost her husband at a young age, but she was able to pick up the pieces thanks to the miracle that is IVF.
Yay! Heartwarming story!
But now she's lost her job, and she's a single mom.
Boooooo. Hiss! Mom down on her luck.
You hate to tear another rug out from under her, but point of fact: Unlike a pregnant woman whose husband dies or even a woman with living kids whose partner passes away, she walked into the pregnancy knowing she had no spouse to help support the child.
It may be cruel, but it's fair to say she knew exactly what she was doing ... and she did it anyway. Her 6-year-old is her responsibility.
The courts in Utah are mulling what could be a trending problem -- studies have shown an increasing number of cancer patients are banking their sperm or eggs before treatment in hopes of protecting their chance at a family. They do it in part because it's a positive action that has been shown to raise the patient's spirits.
Do you think parents like Gayle Burns deserve these government benefits?
Image via Hey Rocker/Flickr