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Monday, 11 March, 2002, 10:58 GMT
To freeze or not: Who should have the final word?
A wealthy French couple who were frozen after their deaths will have their future decided in court.

Biology professor Raymond Martinot, who died last month aged 80, believed that with advances in medical technology he could one day be brought back to life.

He froze his wife's body when she died in 1984 and ordered their son to freeze his body when he died.

However, French authorities in Mr Martinot's home town argue that the continued refrigeration of the couple is illegal under French law - as it is not considered a proper burial.

Should the couple be allowed to continue with their wishes? Would you want your body frozen in hope of later revival?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

If a person wants to be frozen, let him

Eric, USA
Cryogenics is in its infancy today. You need to freeze a body almost instantly for there to be little damage to cells, as simply sticking a piece of meat in a freezer will cause the water in cells to freeze and destroy the cells. But if a person wants to be frozen, let him. At the very basic level, its a principle of a person's last will being carried out. If I wish to be cremated but am instead buried, then my wishes have been violated. If I wish to have my organs donated but my family overrides my decision, than my last wishes have also been violated. Though such things matter little to the dead, its a basic principle of respect for the recently deceased and as such, should not be violated except under the most extreme circumstances.
Eric, USA

It's only nature that has the very first and the very last word in someone's life. No matter how medicine advances, nature will always be ahead of us.

They can achieve eternity by donating their organs

Farnaz Akbar, UK
It's their money, after all. They can use wherever they like. But I wonder, has it ever crossed their mind that they can achieve eternity by donating their organs for thousands of peoples waiting for transplant? Or by giving to charity to minimise the suffering of the living?
Farnaz Akbar, UK

People have funny ideas. I think it is almost a comedy. What about when the son dies? Are they going to have a cellar full of frozen people until a cure for death is found? At some point someone will not comply or will make a fortune out of viewing the frozen family. Money will be the undoing of this plan.
Steve Speroni, UK

It may be selfish to want to live forever, but it's no different, practically, from wanting to live until tomorrow every day. Even the old and sick generally want to stay alive. It's rather too much to expect people to give up fighting for life just because others think it's time they gracefully gave up. The obvious question is, where do we draw the line on life extension? Modern healthcare acts to extend life. Compare life expectancies in first world countries with those in poorer countries. The gaps can be twenty years or more. Should members of poorer societies not want longer lives? Is it selfish of us to live longer than others? It is self-interested, I think, but not in a way that can reasonably be condemned.
James, UK

I personally believe that once the physical body is dead that's it as far as this lifetime is concerned. What happens afterwards to our spirit, soul or whatever is a subject for another debate. However, if a person¿s dying wish is that their body should be frozen in the hope of being revived at some later date and they can afford it, why not let them go ahead ? As long as the storage facility can safely store the human remains and they comply with any laws governing such storage, I can¿t see the harm.
Andy P, London, UK

This is nothing but a monument to the outrageous ego of 21st century humanity

Matthew, USA
People keep saying, "it's their money and they're not hurting anyone," but I don't think that is true. Nobody has a right to live forever, no matter how much money they have. The world is becoming more crowded every day, and there is barely enough room for the living - never mind the dead. It is an amazingly vain and selfish thing to do. There is a time to let go and leave the earth to the next generation. This is nothing but a giant waste of electricity, and a monument to the outrageous ego of 21st century humanity. I think people in the future will turn off the power and let them melt; if you don't believe me, visit the catacombs beneath Paris and see what happens to those long dead.
Matthew, USA

Well I think they are very brave. Just imagine that you died 150 years ago and woke up today. Boy would you be in for a shock as things have changed so much. I would imagine you would be absolutely terrified by traffic for a start, never mind those who would want to exploit you for their own gains. So then think how much the world will have changed in another 150 years, you could wake up in the midst of a nuclear winter or worse!!! It's up to them though, but personally I wouldn't dare!!
Gill, UK

So they are being frozen until a cure is found. What if they had died of hypothermia?
Paul, UK

It will be a great opportunity for archaeologists in the future

Neil, Ireland
It will be a great opportunity for archaeologists in the future to study people from this time. Imagine, no searching, no digging, just pop down to the freezer and there you have instant history, just waiting to be defrosted.
Neil, Ireland

Wouldn't it make things a trifle inconvenient for his family every time they want to retrieve the fish fingers from the freezer?
Henry Case, UK

Instead of freezing himself and doing major damage to an already dead body why not donate the money to any of the vast number of organisations dedicated to finding cures/vaccinations for diseases the living suffer from?
Catherine, Wales, UK

One day, cryonic scientists may be able to successfully re-animate frozen corpses, but only after a lot of unsuccessful attempts. M Martinot should be applauded for not only volunteering to be a guinea pig for this (perhaps slightly bonkers) research, but also for paying for the privilege. What the hell - it's his money.
Emrys, Britain

If people want to freeze themselves after death and are willing to pay for it then why not? Nothing in this world surprises me! I seriously doubt that they could be revived at a later time, even if the disease is curable in years to come - the soul has already left the body.
Chris Horry, Deltona, FL, USA (Former UK)

With the speed at which technology is advancing who is to say that the doctor is not on to a winner?? If he has the funds then let him. God gave us a brain to invent things maybe we can one day discover eternal life. Maybe one day we might inhabit another planet. Who knows??
Mark Holden, Lanzarote

From a scientific point of view, it would be very interesting to see the results of this practice. But looking at the humane side of this story, it is difficult to describe those persons who would be revived by this procedure.
There's one question that springs to my mind: would they remain human?
J Jaramillo, Colombia

Which of us is arrogant enough to believe that some future society would actually want us

John, UK
Anyone should be able to have themselves frozen if they wish. However, which of us is arrogant enough to believe that some future society, technology advanced enough to unfreeze us again and cure any diseases we're suffering from, would actually want us.
John, UK

Does it really matter what these people do? Personally I think its a bit weird, but they are not hurting anyone and it's given me a bit of a laugh on a Friday afternoon!
Ad, UK

How ridiculous. If I'm sufficiently cracked to want to freeze my body after my death, and I can find someone to carry out my wishes, I should be able to do it. Equally, if I want to be dismembered and fed to a tank of sharks, I should be able to do so. The fact that my posthumous actions may be distasteful to some should not be an issue.
John, England

Ever since money developed people have spent it on frivolous pursuits

Mark, Cardiff, EU
The chances of someone being brought back to life after the currently available freezing process is pretty much zero - witness how "mangled" a piece of meat becomes in your freezer and ask yourself whether a human brain could possibly survive the process in any salvageable form. However, ever since money developed people have spent it on frivolous pursuits - it surely can't do any harm.
Mark, Cardiff, EU

Surely if they are paying for the freezing and the upkeep associated with it, then they should be allowed to do as they wish. They have a death certificate so there should be no problem legally.
Maz, UK

While there would be an obvious desire to 'live' forever', so to speak, I cannot understand why someone would not realise their time is at an end and peacefully move on.
Trevor, Scotland

Freezing bodies causes them to take up space and uses energy. Multiply that by the number of people who die each day and the mind boggles. This world already has to support far too many living to be burdened with the preserved bodies of the dead. The very idea of cryonics is an obscenity.
Peter, Europe

We've had this in the States for a decade or so; it's called 'cryogenical freezing.' It may be a waste of time but it's their last will and testament. If French law won't allow it he can always ship his and his wife's remains across the Atlantic.
T.J. Cassidy, U.S.A.

As long as he was of sane mind, why not!? After all it's their body and can choose to do with it what they like in life so why not in death and after-life.
Ian, UK

Freezing bodies? Ridiculous! The world is already overcrowded as it is! One day we might have warehouses filled with frozen dead people... the idea is too silly to take it seriously!
Werner de Jong, Henley, UK

I wouldn't want to wake up in a society which will regard me as a born again dinosaur. The language and culture will be changed. My favourite movies and songs are long gone. My friends will be all dead. My son or grandchildren will be the same age as mine when I wake up. My life will be like an animal in a zoo. It will be a nightmare. I shall suffer from a nervous breakdown.
Simon, England, U.K.

Why not? It's their money. Let them stay frozen until the cash runs out.
David T, UK

If the individual is prepared to pay for the cryogenic process, and has sufficient funds to continue the requirements long into the future, then why not? As far as the impact on the rest of us is concerned, it's not really any different to being buried, is it?
Chris B, England

People who have an incurable illness should have the right to commit suicide and have their bodies frozen. Also people who wish to die young and wake up in the future. This is an individual right. The government has no right to intervene in this matter.
Hubert Johnson, Germany

This leads to all sorts of dilemmas. If immortality is made possible by scientists, then who gets to live forever? Only the rich and powerful. They have enough control over us as it is. We don't need the Immortal Rich.
Ken, UK

Everyone has the right to do what they want to their body, but we should fundamentally accept the cycle of life

Wendy, UK
It's not really a question of ethics - I think everyone has the right to do what they want to their body, although I think we should fundamentally accept the cycle of life. But there are practical implications. What happens when everyone (or at least the rich) start freezing themselves and come back en masse to a world which is already overcrowded and has an ageing population? And surely they are just going to die again? Do they really want to come back and back and back, being increasingly decrepit each time? And will they pay for their ailing bodies to be repeatedly patched up? Actually, it's bonkers isn't it?
Wendy, UK

I don't see any reason why they should want to stop him but I think he's wasting other people's time. The Bible says: "It is appointed unto man once to die, and thereafter the judgement," so once he's gone he won't be coming back for a second innings.

Who is paying? If the costs of keeping them frozen are being met by their own estate and they are not causing a nuisance to anyone else, then I don't see that it is anyone else's business what they wish to have done with their bodies.
Jane, Wales, UK

In the future they may be able to cure or reverse whatever causes him to die but will they be able to fix the damage the freezing process will have done to his body? Maybe this will turn out to be an expensive way of making yourself even more dead. If he's got the money to keep the fridge going for a few hundred years, then good luck to him.
Andrew Cover, UK

Would you want to freeze your body in the hope of later revival?



1942 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

See also:

08 Mar 02 | Europe
Frozen bodies case reaches court
12 Apr 01 | Europe
Cryonics: Quest for eternal life
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