Help others to be mothers - please sign and share the Progress Educational Trust's petition, calling on the UK Government to #ExtendTheLimit on social egg freezing
Page URL: https://www.bionews.org.uk/page_90231

UK woman makes final embryo appeal

22 November 2006
Appeared in BioNews 386

The UK woman fighting to use stored frozen embryos created using her former partner's sperm made a final appeal last week, to the Grand Chamber of the European Court. Natallie Evans started fertility treatment with Howard Johnston in 2001, but he withdrew his consent for the embryos to be used when the couple later split up. Ms Evans, now aged 35, first took her request to use the embryos without Mr Johnston's permission to the UK's High Court in 2003, but lost both the case and a subsequent appeal. Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) also ruled against her. The verdict in the latest appeal is not expected until early next year, but according to Mr Johnston's lawyer, Ms Evans' application is 'bound to fail'.

The UK's law, in the form of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act 1990, requires continued consent from both parties in order for embryos to be used or remain in storage. A withdrawal of consent means that the embryos should be destroyed. The embryos represent Ms Evans' last chance to have her own biologically related child, as her ovaries were removed when they were found to be cancerous. It was at this point that she also agreed to store embryos created with her partner's sperm - rather than freezing her eggs or using donor sperm to create embryos.

Last September, Ms Evans asked the ECHR to rule whether UK law preventing her using stored frozen embryos violated her human rights under Articles 8 (right to respect for private and family life) and 14 (freedom from discrimination) of the European Convention on Human Rights. She also asked the ECHR to consider whether the embryos themselves had a right to life under Article 2. On 7 March, the ECHR unanimously ruled that there had been no violation of Article 2 concerning the actual embryos; unanimously that there had been no violation of Article 14 concerning the way Ms Evans was treated by the law; and, by five votes to two, that there had been no violation of Article 8.

The ECHR ended its judgment by saying that parties had the ability to ask that the case be heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights. In a statement to the press at the time, Muiris Lyons, the solicitor acting for Ms Evans, said that this, along with the fact that the five majority judges expressed their 'great sympathy for the plight of Natallie', and the strength of the dissenting judgment, had convinced her to request that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber. The ECHR also reminded the UK Government that it must take appropriate measures to ensure that Natallie Evans' embryos are not destroyed until the judgment became final or pending any further order.

Ms Evans' appeal was heard by 17 judges sitting at the Court's Grand Chamber last week. Ahead of the hearing, she told the BBC's Heaven and Earth show that 'I've got nowhere else to go after this. This is the end of the legal battle', adding 'these are potential children to me. I'm their mum and I'm their voice'. However, James Grigg, the lawyer representing Mr Johnston, said that the law 'clearly' states that the use of the embryos requires the consent of both parties. 'My feeling is that the application is bound to fail', he said, adding 'there must surely be consent to parenthood in the interests of any child born as a result of IVF'.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Embryo bid woman 'destined to lose'
The Guardian |  22 November 2006
Woman making final embryo appeal
BBC News Online |  22 November 2006
RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE
30 September 2013 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A woman in the USA is embroiled in a legal battle with her former partner over the use of cryopreserved embryos...
5 March 2008 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
A UK man has two children he did not know existed, born after his estranged wife conceived using the IVF embryos they had created together, the Sunday Times has reported. The couple were treated for infertility at Bourn Hall clinic, near Cambridge, and the resulting embryos...
30 April 2007 - by Dr Anna Smajdor 
On 10 April 2007, Natallie Evans lost the final stage of a four year legal battle for the right to implant embryos created with her eggs and the sperm of her former partner. Ms Evans had been diagnosed with cancer, and treatment necessitated the removal of her ovaries, leaving her...
10 April 2007 - by Dr Jess Buxton 
The UK woman fighting to use stored frozen embryos against the wishes of her former partner has lost her final appeal. Natallie Evans underwent IVF with Howard Johnston in 2001, before Ms Evans had treatment for ovarian cancer that left her infertile. Mr Johnston later withdrew...
8 December 2006 - by Professor Sally Sheldon 
2006 has witnessed significant litigation regarding the disposal of stored embryos. In the UK, the long-running court battle waged by Natallie Evans has reached its final chapter. Having lost her ovaries to cancer treatment, previously stored embryos created from Ms Evans' eggs and her ex-partner's sperm represent Ms Evans' last...
7 March 2006 - by BioNews 
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has issued its judgment in the case of Evans v the United Kingdom. Natallie Evans, a British woman seeking the right to be able to use her own frozen IVF embryos, asked the court last September to rule whether UK law preventing her...
6 March 2006 - by BioNews 
Natallie Evans, a British woman seeking the right to be able to use her own frozen IVF embryos, will hear tomorrow if her claim has succeeded in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Last September, she asked the ECHR to consider her case, having been refused leave to appeal...
28 September 2005 - by BioNews 
Natallie Evans, a British woman seeking the right to be able to use her own frozen IVF embryos, has asked the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to consider her case. Last December, the UK's highest court - the House of Lords - refused to hear her appeal, after her case was...
15 February 2005 - by BioNews 
Natallie Evans, a British woman seeking the right to be able to use her own frozen IVF embryos, is taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The embryos were created using her own eggs and sperm from her then partner, who later withdrew his consent to...
6 December 2004 - by BioNews 
The UK's House of Lords has refused to allow an appeal from Natallie Evans, a woman seeking to be able to use frozen IVF embryos that were created before she separated from her then partner, who has since withdrawn his consent to their use. The embryos represent her last chance...
HAVE YOUR SAY
Log in to add a Comment.

By posting a comment you agree to abide by the BioNews terms and conditions


Syndicate this story - click here to enquire about using this story.