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UK woman loses frozen embryo case
An infertile British woman has lost a legal attempt to have children using frozen embryos fertilised by her ex-partner, who does not want her to conceive his offspring.
Last Modified: 07 Mar 2006 13:22 GMT
Natalie Evans will seek to have the case re-examined
An infertile British woman has lost a legal attempt to have children using frozen embryos fertilised by her ex-partner, who does not want her to conceive his offspring.

The European Court of Human Rights on Tuesday rejected Natallie Evans' submission that her human rights had been infringed by British court rulings which said her former fiance Howard Johnston was entitled to block her use of the embryos.

Speaking after the decision, Evans, 34, said she was disappointed and would seek to have the case re-examined.

She also appealed to Johnston.

"I would still prefer not to use the courts. Howard may feel it is too late for him to change his mind, but it is not. Howard please think about it," she said.

"Let's stop going through the courts and let me have what I want."

But at a separate news conference, Johnston said he was pleased with the European court decision.

"It seems that common sense has prevailed," he said.
"The key thing for me was just to be able to decide when, and if, I would start a family."

Mutual consent

Judges in both Britain's High Court and Appeal Court have said both the man and the woman must give their consent for the use of embryos right up until they are implanted.

"The Court did not find that the absence of a power to override a genetic parent's withdrawal of consent, even in the exceptional circumstances of the applicant's case, was such as to upset the fair balance required by Article 8 (on human rights)"

European court judgement

The European court judgment said: "The Court did not find that the absence of a power to override a genetic parent's withdrawal of consent, even in the exceptional circumstances of the applicant's case, was such as to upset the fair balance required by Article 8 (on human rights)."

Evans' attempt for a baby began in 2000 when she and Johnston sought fertility treatment at a clinic in Bath, southwest England. During an examination she was diagnosed with a pre-cancerous condition of her ovaries.

Prior to the surgical removal of the ovaries, she and Johnston had IVF (in vitro fertilisation) and six embryos were created. They were later frozen and put into storage.

Emotional burden

The couple later separated and Johnston then withdrew his consent for the embryos to be used.

He argued that he did not want her to have his baby because he did not want the financial or emotional burden of being a father to a child he would not bring up.

Legally, Johnston would have been responsible for any child that he was the biological father of because a parent's obligation is to the child, not the partner.

After Evans lost her Appeal Court case in 2004, Lady Justice Arden said that couples seeking IVF treatment should consider reaching agreement about what should happen to their embryos if they separated.

Source:
Reuters
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