03 December 2003
ByAppeared in BioNews 236
Diane Blood has re-registered the birth of her two sons, born following the use of sperm taken from her dead husband. In September 2003, she succeeded in her five-year campaign to have her late husband's name on her children's birth certificates.
Until 1 December, Liam and Joel Blood's birth certificates showed their father as 'unknown', because of a provision of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act 1990. The Government originally promised to amend the law in August 2000, but the resultant bill ran out of parliamentary time in April 2001. Lawyers acting for Mrs Blood then issued a challenge to the law under the Human Rights Act 1998.
In February 2003, the judge in the human rights case condemned the actions of the Government in fighting Mrs Blood's claims for more than three years. The Government's lawyers then accepted that the law was 'incompatible' with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) - the right to 'private and family life'. This meant that the Government was obliged to amend the law.
In March 2003, MPs approved a proposal to amend the HFE Act to recognise the biological fathers of all children conceived posthumously, making it compatible with the ECHR. In September, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Deceased Fathers) Act was passed by the House of Lords and given Royal Assent - it came into force on 1 December 2003. Women, such as Diane Blood, who had already given birth to children conceived posthumously were given a six-month window to re-register the birth of their children. And Mrs Blood estimated that a further five families per year would benefit from the change to the law.