Frozen embryos woman loses last legal battle

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The Independent Online

A British woman today lost her last desperate legal battle for the right to use her frozen IVF embryos to have a baby.

Natallie Evans had endured defeats in the British courts and faced an order to destroy the embryos, because her ex-fiance withdrew his consent to use them.

With time running out for the use of her stored embryos, she turned to the European Court of Human Rights.

But today the Strasbourg judges backed the British law requiring a partner's approval at every stage of the process.

The verdict effectively signals the final destruction of the six embryos which held Ms Evans's only hopes of having a child that is genetically hers.

Ms Evans's lawyers argued in the human rights court that the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act governing IVF treatment was a breach of the Human Rights Convention which guarantees the "right to family life".

Her right to family life had been violated because the Act would not allow her to use the embryos without the consent of her partner at every stage of the process, the judges were told.

But the judges today said the Act included a "clear and principled" rule, which was explained to those embarking on IVF treatment and which was clearly set out on the forms they both signed.

It was a rule "whereby the consent of either party might be withdrawn at any stage up to the point of implementation of an embryo".

The UK government, in making that stipulation, had not exceeded "the margin of appreciation afforded to it or upset the fair balance required (by the Human Rights Convention)".

Ms Evans and her then fiance opted for IVF when doctors said Ms Evans would be left infertile after being treated for cancer.

But the couple later split up, and Mr Johnston reversed his consent for the use of the embryos, saying he had changed his mind and did not want the financial or emotional burden of a child with Ms Evans.

In the British courts Ms Evans's lawyers argued that Mr Johnston had originally consented to the creation, storage and use of the embryos, and should not be allowed to change his mind.