Woman loses frozen embryo case


Summary

A British woman has lost her last chance of having her a baby after a European court ruled she can't use frozen embryos made with her former fiance.

Natallie Evans broke down in tears at an emotional press conference in
London, shortly after the ruling was handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

"I am distraught at the court's decision today. It's very hard for me to accept that the embryos will now be destroyed and that I will never become a mother," said the 35-year-old, who had her ovaries removed due to cancer.

Her ex-fiance Howard Johnston, who withdrew his consent for the embryos to be used after the couple separated, voiced relief at the decision.

"I had hoped that common sense and the legal framework would hold up. I'm grateful and relieved that it has done so," he said.

But his lawyer admitted: "He accepts that some people might regard him as heartless for adopting the position that he has throughout the case."

The European Union court's Grand Chamber said in its ruling that "the embryos created by the applicant and (her fiance) did not have a right to life within the meaning of Article 2" of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The issues raised by the present case were undoubtedly of a morally and ethically delicate nature," it noted.

The ruling ends an emotional five-year legal battle started by Ms Evans after the couple's relationship broke up.

Ms Evans learned in 2000 that she had contracted ovarian cancer, and the couple agreed to in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), producing six embryos which were frozen and stored.

But after the couple split in May 2002, Mr Johnston withdrew his permission for the embryos to be used. Under British law, both the man and woman have to give their consent at every stage of IVF treatment.

Ms Evans took the case to the British High Court, which ruled against her, and eventually she appealed to the EU tribunal — which in March 2006 also said Ms Evans did not have the right to have children using the frozen embryos.

Ms Evans appealed again, and a hearing followed in November at the court's so-called Grand Chamber.

The clinic involved was ordered to keep the embryos until all appeals are exhausted but under British law, they are expected to be destroyed within 28 days.

Ms Evans' lawyer said that in theory Mr Johnston could still change his mind, but the 35-year-old held out little hope that her former fiance will re-think.

"I've pleaded with him before and it has not worked so there's nothing I can say to him any more," said Ms Evans, who lives in Wiltshire, southwest England.

Mr Johnston, speaking at a press conference in Cheltenham, southwest England, shortly after the Strasbourg ruling, said he and Ms Evans when together had discussed other options such as fostering or adoption.

"I hope she will be able to find happiness through one of those other means," he said.


A British woman has lost her last chance of having her a baby after a European court ruled she can't use frozen embryos made with her former fiance.

Natallie Evans broke down in tears at an emotional press conference in
London, shortly after the ruling was handed down by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

"I am distraught at the court's decision today. It's very hard for me to accept that the embryos will now be destroyed and that I will never become a mother," said the 35-year-old, who had her ovaries removed due to cancer.

Her ex-fiance Howard Johnston, who withdrew his consent for the embryos to be used after the couple separated, voiced relief at the decision.

"I had hoped that common sense and the legal framework would hold up. I'm grateful and relieved that it has done so," he said.

But his lawyer admitted: "He accepts that some people might regard him as heartless for adopting the position that he has throughout the case."

The European Union court's Grand Chamber said in its ruling that "the embryos created by the applicant and (her fiance) did not have a right to life within the meaning of Article 2" of the European Convention on Human Rights.

"The issues raised by the present case were undoubtedly of a morally and ethically delicate nature," it noted.

The ruling ends an emotional five-year legal battle started by Ms Evans after the couple's relationship broke up.

Ms Evans learned in 2000 that she had contracted ovarian cancer, and the couple agreed to in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), producing six embryos which were frozen and stored.

But after the couple split in May 2002, Mr Johnston withdrew his permission for the embryos to be used. Under British law, both the man and woman have to give their consent at every stage of IVF treatment.

Ms Evans took the case to the British High Court, which ruled against her, and eventually she appealed to the EU tribunal — which in March 2006 also said Ms Evans did not have the right to have children using the frozen embryos.

Ms Evans appealed again, and a hearing followed in November at the court's so-called Grand Chamber.

The clinic involved was ordered to keep the embryos until all appeals are exhausted but under British law, they are expected to be destroyed within 28 days.

Ms Evans' lawyer said that in theory Mr Johnston could still change his mind, but the 35-year-old held out little hope that her former fiance will re-think.

"I've pleaded with him before and it has not worked so there's nothing I can say to him any more," said Ms Evans, who lives in Wiltshire, southwest England.

Mr Johnston, speaking at a press conference in Cheltenham, southwest England, shortly after the Strasbourg ruling, said he and Ms Evans when together had discussed other options such as fostering or adoption.

"I hope she will be able to find happiness through one of those other means," he said.