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Frozen embryo court case begins

30 June 2003
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 214

Two women appeared in the High Court today to try to prevent the destruction of their stored frozen embryos, created using IVF. Natallie Evans and Lorraine Hadley both want to complete their IVF treatment, against the wishes of their former partners, saying the frozen embryos represent their only chance to have a child. They are challenging the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act of 1990, which states that embryos must be destroyed unless both parties agree to their continued storage and use.

Ms Evans had six IVF embryos frozen before having her ovaries removed, when it was discovered they were pre-cancerous. Ms Hadley has two frozen embryos in storage, but her husband refused to allow the embryos to be used after the end of their marriage. Ms Hadley said: 'I am here today to ask the court to let me finish what I have already started'. The women's lawyers argue that the HFE Act breaches their client's human rights under European law. 'The judge has got to balance a woman's right to become a mother in these circumstances, with a potential father's right not to become a father' said Muiris Lyons, their solicitor. Lyons has also said that current legislation discriminates against the women because they are infertile: if they could get pregnant naturally, their partners would have no say over what the women could do. Liberal Democrat Health spokesman Evan Harris said that while everyone should have sympathy with the circumstances of the two women, the case should be clear cut in that the consent of both parties is required for the continued storage and use of embryos. 'Parliament intended consent of both parents and parliament still believes that consent must mutual and current, otherwise we face the prospect of forced paternity which does not give adequate respect for the rights of prospective parents' he said. The case is expected to last six days.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Embryo battle goes to court
BBC News Online |  30 June 2003
Frozen Embryo Battles Go to High Court
Reuters |  30 June 2003
Women in court plea to save frozen embryos
The Independent |  30 June 2003
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