Diane Blood, the British woman who made legal history by fighting to have a baby using her late husband Stephen's sperm, and who last month won a court battle against the Government to have him named as the legal father, is another step closer to her goal.
She has been campaigning for existing legislation to be changed, so that her husband's name can appear on her two children's birth certificates. Currently, Liam and Joel's birth certificates show the father as 'unknown'. The Government promised to amend the law retrospectively in August 2000, but the resultant Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Deceased Fathers) Bill was talked out of time in April 2001. Lawyers acting for Mrs Blood then issued a challenge to the birth registration rules under the Human Rights Act (HRA) 1998.
In the case last month, Mr Justice Sullivan condemned the Government, which had fought Mrs Blood's claims for more than three years. Government lawyers then agreed to settle the human rights claim before it even went to court. They accepted that the law was 'incompatible' with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) - the right to 'private and family life'.
Now, a private member's bill sponsored by Stephen McCabe MP, has been given strong support by the Government, as MPs approved the proposal to amend the law to recognise the biological fathers of all children conceived posthumously, making it compatible with the ECHR. If the bill fails, the Health Secretary will then have to decide whether or not to use the 'fast track' procedure under the HRA to give effect to the court's ruling. If he does not, Mrs Blood vows to continue her fight until the law is amended.