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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Q&A: Frozen embryos court case
Two women have been told they have lost their High Court fight to use frozen embryos, which their ex-partners did not want them to use.

BBC News Online looks at the issues in the case.

What did the women want?

Natallie Evans and Lorraine Hadley both want the right to use embryos created and frozen while they were with their former partners.

But both of their ex-partners said they do not want the embryos to be implanted because the relationships had broken down.

Both women say that, because of health problems, the embryos represent their only chance to have a child.

What did the High Court judge decide?

Judge Justice Ward ruled against the women, saying that the men's consent was needed at every stage for IVF treatment to go ahead.

He said he had sympathy with the women's situations, but could not over-rule the law in this area.

The women have been refused the right to appeal to the High Court, but could take their case to the Court of Appeal or go on to Europe.

Why did the women have their embryos frozen - and why did it go to court?

Ms Evans, 30, from Trowbridge in Wiltshire, had her ovaries removed during treatment for cancer.

Six embryos were created before her treatment using her eggs and her former fiancÚ Howard Johnston's sperm.

But the relationship ended and Mr Johnston asked for the embryos to be destroyed.

Ms Hadley, 37, from Sandwell in the West Midlands, has two embryos in storage created during her marriage with her ex-husband Wayne.

She has a 17-year-old daughter from a previous relationship, but suffers from fertility problems because of a medical condition, so could not become pregnant naturally.

What were the legal arguments used by the women?

They said if they had fallen pregnant naturally and then split up with their partners, the men would have had no say over whether they had the child.

Their solicitors argued that the requirement for both parties to consent to the implantation - enshrined in the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act - breached the women's human rights under European law.

They said it was unfair that former partners had a "complete veto" over whether or not IVF treatment took place.

The women's solicitors are also argued that no viable embryo should be allowed to perish if a parent wants it to live.

What are the implications of the High Court judgement?

The law will remain the same, which experts have welcomed.

The decision means that clinics will still need the consent of both partners at each stage of the IVF treatment process.

Couples undergoing fertility treatment will have to consider what would happen to any embryos that were created should they split up.

Women lose embryo battle
01 Oct 03  |  Health
Head to head: Embryo court case
01 Oct 03  |  Health

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