Mr Justice Jackson said that his ruling that a 14 year old girl’s body could be frozen and cryogenically preserved was not about the ‘science’ of cryogenics, merely a case of whether a dying minor (who cannot legally make a will), should have her wishes complied with after death, when her estranged parents were in dispute – perhaps, a defining tale of our times.
The judge did however, suggest that the Government should consider regulation of the cryogenic practices.
Psalm 90 states that “three score and ten are the number of our years” and I can understand that anyone looking at a shorter life would feel cheated, particularly a child blighted by disease. Even the rest of us, healthy, with longevity increasing every year, might envy the patriarchs who, before the Flood, lived so much longer. Adam was 930 years old and Noah made it to 950.
I don’t believe that pumping the body full of anti-freeze and storing it in liquid nitrogen is an answer. The science of re-animating a corpse is no more plausible to-day than it was when Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818. The £37,000 cost of preserving the body is a gamble on the prospect of future technology discovering how to bring it back to life, and then to cure it of whatever was the cause of death in the first place. It is not clear when, if ever, sufficient medical priority would be attached to such an endeavour to justify deploying the necessary resources and expertise.
Aside from the question of how one would regulate and police the industry, the danger is that the Judge’s request for government regulation, would of itself confer credibility on the practice, almost as it were officially sanctioned.
Yet the desire to preserve the body is quite normal. The ancients mummified them. Daily, billions of Christians recite the creeds stating explicitly “I believe in the resurrection of the body”. This begs all sorts of questions, including, is it the body in its prime, or old and wrinkly?
Certainly there was something different about the body of Jesus after the Resurrection: neither Mary Magdalene nor the disciples on the road to Emmaus initially recognised him (even though he bore the stigmata of the crucifixion).
In any event, faith in resurrection by divine intervention for an eternal and quite different existence, seems to me a much better prospect than an investment in an inevitably temporary re-animation, even if science can ever deliver it.
Anyway, irrespective of the judge’s request, I’m sure won’t be regulating it.