Widow savours victory over naming of father

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The Independent Online

Diane Blood, the widow who won the right to have children using her dead husband's sperm, went to the House of Lords yesterday to witness the change in the law that will allow her late partner to be legally recognised as the father.

Mrs Blood, 36, from Worksop, Nottinghamshire, sat in the upper chamber for the third reading and Royal Assent of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Deceased Fathers) Bill. The legislation means the dead fathers of children born from frozen sperm are recognised on birth certificates.

Mrs Blood has fought a long battle to have her husband recognised as the father of her children, Liam, aged four, and Joel, one. Stephen died from bacterial meningitis in 1995. She wanted his name listed as the father of her children on their birth certificates. At the moment their paternal details are left blank, as if they were unknown.

Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which controls all test-tube births, when the sperm of a man or an embryo created after his death is used he is not considered the father of the child.

The Government eventually accepted that the law was "incompatible" with the European Convention on Human Rights. The breakthrough came at the High Court in March of this year. Mrs Blood was joined in her claim by Joanne Tarbuck, from Higher Kinnerton, near Chester, whose five-year-old son, Jonathan, was conceived with the sperm of her dead husband, Martin.

Mrs Blood and Mrs Tarbuck, who were not legally aided, claimed the law had rendered their children "legally fatherless for all purposes". The judge hearing the case criticised Alan Milburn, the Secretary of State for Health, for opposing their claim until legal action was launched. The new law allows the children to have their father's name entered on their birth certificates.