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Mother of dead transgender girl makes case to save her sperm

7 September 2020
Appeared in BioNews 1062

A Scottish mother is taking legal action to prevent her deceased child's sperm from being destroyed by a fertility clinic.

Ellie Anderson died in July aged 16 after an unexpected illness. She was transgender and had chosen to freeze her sperm when she was 14 so she could have genetically-related children in the future. 

’As a teenager she delayed hormone blockers to save her sperm to enable her to have her own biological children. She had made me promise that if anything were to happen to her, her children would be brought into the world,' her mother, Louise Anderson, told BBC Scotland. 'I am going to do everything I can to honour her wishes - not just for her but for anyone else who is caught in this position.’ 

Glasgow Royal Infirmary, where Ellie’s samples are stored, is bound by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (1990) and believes that the law requires the sample to be destroyed. The act contains provision for stored gametes to be retained for use by a partner in the event of the patient's death, but not for anyone else. Since Ellie did not have a partner, a court order would be required to allow the sample to be retained.

Anderson wants to honour Ellie’s wishes by using Ellie’s sperm with a donor egg and a surrogate to produce a grandchild. She has asked her solicitors to address the highest court in Scotland, the Court of Session, to allow the sperm to be retained and transferred for her use. 

Anderson's solicitor, Virgil Crawford, said it was an ’unusual, interesting, important and complex legal issue'. 

'What we're trying to achieve would be to get an order from the court that Ellie's mum would be entitled to make use of her sperm for the purpose that Ellie intended - that being to create a genetic child of hers and a grandchild for Ms Anderson. I am seeking an assurance that the sample will not be destroyed until this issue is resolved. If that assurance is not forthcoming it is likely that an interim interdict will be sought to prevent it’.

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