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Indian court will hear destroyed embryo case 'academically'

1 April 2019
Appeared in BioNews 993

The Bombay High Court in Mumbai will continue to hear the application of a deceased man's family for permission to use his frozen embryos, even though they were destroyed per his wife's wishes. 

The man and his wife had created embryos at the Navjeevan Fertility and IVF Centre in Solapur, India, with the intention of having a child via surrogacy. Both of the husband's sisters had offered to carry the pregnancy.   

The husband died in October 2017, before an embryo transfer could take place. His parents subsequently asked the clinic to continue with the planned surrogacy arrangement. The clinic refused on the basis that the wife had withdrawn her consent to the embryos being used. 

The parents and their two daughters sought a direction from the Bombay High Court to compel the clinic to continue with the embryo transfer. The petition stated that both daughters are still willing to act as surrogates, and the child would be cared for by the man's parents (who are aged 70 and 65), without expectation that their daughter-in-law would be involved in the child's life. 

At the hearing on Thursday, the clinic told the court that the embryos had been destroyed, following a request from the widow. According to the Indian Express, the clinic provided the court with a letter from the widow, in which she stated that she did not want the embryos to be transferred to her husband's family, and consented to their destruction.    

'Parents don't have any role in the decision-making. The decisions in such cases depend only on the couple. In this case, one of them died. So the decision lies entirely on the other partner,' Dr Anjali Malpani, co-founder of Malpani Infertility Clinic, who is not involved in the case told the Hindustan Times.

The court said that, despite the fact that it could not grant the resolution which the husband's family was seeking, it would continue to hear the case 'academically'. 

According to the Times of India, Justice Oka, one of the judges hearing the case, said: 'Until the surrogate process is done, whether consent can be withdrawn because the situation has changed, is a matter to be decided.' 

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Couple wants to go ahead with surrogacy process to have dead son's child
Times of India |  22 March 2019
Destroyed embryo on request of man's wife: Fertility centre to Bombay HC
The Indian Express |  29 March 2019
Solapur IVF centre destroyed embryo on widow’s instructions: Elderly couple informed in Bombay HC
Hindustan Times |  29 March 2019
Woman told us to destroy embryos: Clinic
Times of India |  29 March 2019
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