Page last updated at 13:19 GMT, Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Irish court rules against woman in frozen embryo appeal

Three embryos were created through IVF

An Irish woman has lost her legal battle to have three of her frozen embryos released to her.

The Supreme Court in the Republic of Ireland dismissed the appeal which was taken by a 43-year-old mother.

She wanted to implant the embryos and have the babies against the wishes of her estranged husband.

All five Supreme Court judges were in agreement in dismissing the appeal in Dublin on Tuesday.

The couple at the centre of the case had IVF treatment in 2002 - six embryos were created - three were implanted and the woman went on to have a child.

The other three embryos were frozen. Shortly afterwards the couple separated.

The original High Court case arose when the woman wanted to use the frozen embryos to have another child, but her estranged husband did not.

In 2006, the High Court rejected the woman's argument that the embryos were protected by the Republic's Constitution.

On Tuesday, the judges also ruled that the term "unborn" only applies after implantation in the womb and does not apply to frozen embryos.

Therefore frozen embryos are not afforded the legal protection guaranteed by article 40.3.3 of the Irish Constitution.

The Supreme Court expressed concern at the total absence of any form of statutory regulation of in vitro fertilisation in Ireland.

Mr Justice Fennelly said it was "disturbing" that four years after the publication of the Report of the Commission on Assisted Reproduction, no legislative proposal had ever been formulated.

The judges stressed that the matter was "serious and urgent".

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