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Thursday, 19 September, 2002, 17:37 GMT 18:37 UK
Embryo fight couples in court
Lorraine Hadley (left) and Natallie Evans
Lorraine Hadley and Natallie Evans outside the court
Two women who want to use frozen embryos against the will of the former partners who helped create them have brought their case to the High Court.

Natallie Evans and Lorraine Hadley are challenging on human rights grounds a law which says both parties must consent to the storage and use of the embryos created from a man's sperm and a woman's eggs.


I think you have got the right to continue what you have started

Lorraine Hadley
Both women say that the frozen embryos represent their only chance of having a child.

They are fighting their former partners - both of whom want the embryos destroyed.

The women are using the analogy that if they got pregnant naturally and the embryos were in their bodies, then their partners would have no say at all.

New Year hearing

Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, president of the High Court's Family Division, said that a full hearing would be scheduled for some time in the New Year.

Ms Evans, aged 30, from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, had placed in storage six frozen embryos created from her eggs and the sperm of her former fiance Howard Johnston before she had treatment for ovarian cancer, which left her infertile.


I do not wish a child to be born so many years after our marriage ended

Wayne Hadley
That relationship ended, and her former partner asked for the embryos to be destroyed.

Ms Hadley, 37, from Sandwell in the West Midlands, has two embryos in storage created during her relationship 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.

Ms Hadley told the BBC: "An embryo is not part of the property you have divided up when you have gone through a divorce. An embryo is a life.

"I think you have got the right to continue what you have started. He would not be able to stop me if I had already had it implanted."

Consent needed

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 1990 says that embryos cannot be implanted in a woman unless both partners involved in their creation consent to the procedure.


The result will affect everyone undertaking IVF treatment

Muiris Lyons
But the women's lawyers are expected to argue that the Act breaches the women's human rights under European law.

They say the women are being discriminated against because they are now infertile and having to undergo IVF treatment.

The women's solicitor, Muiris Lyons, said: "The result will affect everyone undertaking IVF treatment.

"The law as it stands gives their respective former partners a complete veto. They say that is unfair and discriminatory."

Ms Evans has said that she would continue to the European Court of Human Rights should her High Court challenge fail.

'Emotional damage'

However, Mr Hadley - who was not in court - explained in a statement why he was trying to block use of the embryos.

"I have no wish to cause Lorraine any additional pain or unhappiness.

"However, I do not wish a child to be born so many years after our marriage ended.

"What emotional or psychological damage would a child suffer born in these circumstances?"

In similar cases in the US, it is understood that most courts have ruled in favour of the man, but there has been at least one where the woman was successful.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Karen Allen
"This will be a controversial testcase"
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11 Sep 02 | Health
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