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Parentage of twins to be decided

27 January 2003
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 192

An inquiry has begun in the Family Division of the UK High Court to determine the legal parentage of mixed-race twins born to a white couple following a mistake during IVF procedures at the Assisted Conception Unit at Leeds General Infirmary last July. Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, head of the Family Division, has been examining the legal issues raised by the case, including paternity and custody.

Last year, genetic tests established that the white woman who gave birth to the twins, known publicly only as 'Mrs A', is also their genetic mother. But, during IVF treatment using ICSI (intra-cytoplasmic sperm injection ), her eggs had been fertilised with the sperm of a man from another couple undergoing treatment on the same day, that of 'Mr B'.

In a previous hearing last November, Dame Butler-Sloss revealed that the black couple involved remain childless, although she stressed that there was no suggestion that the twins should be uprooted from their 'happy and loving environment' with the white couple, known as Mr and Mrs A. But Mr B has asked the judge to tell him what rights he has over the children, if any.

Judith Parker QC, a lawyer representing Mr and Mrs B, told the court 'The issue so far as it relates to my clients is the status of the children; whether their parentage leads Mr A to be regarded as the father for all purposes within the meaning of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990'. She emphasised that Mr B could not be 'equated with a sperm donor' so the case may fall outside of the provisions contained in the Act. Dame Butler-Sloss has reserved judgement and no date has been given for when she will give her ruling.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Biological father's plea over IVF twins
The Daily Mail |  21 January 2003
IVF mix-up hearing begins
BBC News Online |  20 January 2003
Reserved judgement in IVF mix-up
BBC News Online |  22 January 2003
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