Widow begins case to keep dead husband's sperm

Beth Warren wants to keep her late husband's sperm so she can have their children

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The Independent Online

A widow’s High Court case to preserve her late husband’s sperm has begun.

Beth Warren, a 28-year-old physiotherapist from Birmingham, is challenging a storage time limit imposed on the sperm by the UK’s fertility regulator, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

The limit means Mrs Warren, who uses her late husband’s first name as her surname, has until April 2015 to use Warren Brewer’s sperm to conceive the couple’s child.

Mr Brewer died aged 32 nearly two year ago after he developed a brain tumour. The sample was put in storage before he died

On Friday, a lawyer began outlining the case to Mrs Justice Hogg, at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London.

The court heard that Mr Brewer, a ski instructor, had signed a consent form allowing the storage of his sperm, but for a limited time.

Mrs Warren said she has not had enough time to make decisions and wants the timescale to be extended.

Her lawyer Jenni Richards QC argued that Mrs Warren was not yet “emotionally, physically or practically” ready to conceive, and her husband’s intention was to ensure his sperm could be used by his wife after he died.

“There is no ambiguity or lack of clarity about what Warren wanted,” said Ms Richards. “His wishes and intentions are clear. He signed every form he was given to sign.”

Mrs Warren told the court: “I am sure there is absolutely no way he wanted to limit my choices in this situation.”

The HFEA argues it has “no discretion to extend the storage period beyond that to which her husband gave written consent”.

Jane Collier, the lawyer representing the organistaion, said officials sympathised with Mrs Warren, but added that Mr Brewer had not given written consent to his sperm being stored beyond April 2015.

But Mrs Warren’s lawyer said the authority was taking an “excessively linguistic and technical approach” and suggested that every option had not been made clear to Mr Brewer.

A woman who fought a similar legal fight nearly 20 years ago was in court to offer Mrs Warren support.

In the mid-1990s, Diane Blood, a 47-year-old writer from Worksop, Nottinghamshire, won the right to use her late husband's sperm to try for a child they had planned together before his sudden death from meningitis.

“Mrs Warren got in touch with me,” Mrs Blood, who has two sons aged 15 and 11, told journalists. “I hope she wins.”

The judge has reserved her judgement and said she would deliver a ruling at a date to be fixed.

Additional reporting by PA