Mrs Blood to have baby

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THE woman who fought an emotional three-year battle to have a baby by her dead husband announced last night she had become pregnant following fertility treatment abroad.

Mrs Blood, who is 31 and lives in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, said: "I wish to confirm the good news and say that I am absolutely delighted even though I had wished to keep it quiet a little longer."

Her father, Mike Mahon, added that the pregnancy was in its "early stages" and was the result of fertility treatment, though he did not say where it had taken place. Mrs Blood's husband Stephen died from bacterial meningitis in 1995.

"I would like to thank everyone who has supported me, family, clinicians, the public, lawyers and the media," Mrs Blood said. "I find myself in the slightly embarrassing situation of being asked to confirm that I am pregnant before I tell my friends and all but my immediate family." She added that she would speak publicly about the case at a later date.

The news of Diane Blood's pregnancy by her dead husband's sperm brings to a conclusion an emotional and controversial legal test case which pushed the ability of British law to meet dilemmas of extreme moral duress to the very limit.

After Mr Blood developed bacterial meningitis, two sperm samples were taken from him after he fell into a coma in February 1995. He died before he could sign a consent form.

Mrs Blood's campaign to have a baby by her husband sparked widespread controversy. It appeared to have been blocked when the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority ruled that the sperm had been removed from Mr Blood's body without his prior written consent, which is required by the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

Although the ruling meant it would be against the law for Mrs Blood to use the sperm for treatment in Britain, in February 1997 - on the day that would have been Mr Blood's 32nd birthday - the High Court in effect opened the way for her to seek fertility treatment abroad. As a result, Mrs Blood then embarked on the task of persuading doctors in the Belgian fertility clinic where she was seeking treatment that it would be right to go ahead.

Two bills were introduced following the Diane Blood case - one by the fertility pioneer Lord Winston - which sought to soften the rigid requirement for written consent by qualifying it with the word "usually" or "normally".

Both bills were later withdrawn but the report notes that they "would undoubtedly have had wider implications had they become law."

n Lord Winston has attacked the "scandalous and bizarre" way fertility treatment is funded on the NHS under his own government. The misery of tens of thousands of couples is being increased unnecessarily, said the Professor of Fertility Studies, a "working" peer since 1995.

Since treatment is funded out of national rather than local taxation, there should be a national standard of provision, he said.

Waiting for the miracle, Review, page 4