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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 09:59 GMT 10:59 UK
Q&A: Frozen embryos court case
Lorraine Hadley and Natallie Evans
Lorraine Hadley and Natallie Evans both wanted to use frozen embryos
A woman has been told she has lost her Court of Appeal fight to use frozen embryos, which her ex-partner did not want her to use.

BBC News Online looks at the issues in the case.


Q: Why did Natallie Evans go to court?

Natallie Evans went to the Court of Appeal in her latest bid to be allowed to use embryos created and frozen while she was with her former partner.

Her ex-partner has said they do not want the embryos to be implanted because the relationship had broken down.

But Natallie Evans says that, because of health problems, the embryos represent her only chance to have a child.

The decision against her follows a previous ruling against Ms Evans and a second woman, Lorraine Hadley who is in the same situation, in the High Court.

Ms Hadley did not take her case to the Appeal Court.

Natallie Evans now has 28 days to decide if she wants to take her case to the House of Lords.

She could also then decide to take the case to the European Court.

Q: What did the Appeal Court judge decide?

The ruling supports the previous High Court judgement, saying that the men's consent was needed at every stage for IVF treatment to go ahead.

This is set down in the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

The judge at the High Court hearing said he had sympathy with the women's situations, but could not over-rule the law in this area.

Q: 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 because he no longer wanted to have a child with Ms Evans.

Ms Hadley, 37, from Stafford, 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.

Q: What legal arguments have the women used?

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.

Q: What were the issues for the potential fathers?

Howard Johnston said he did not want the financial or emotional burden of having a child with Ms Evans.

If the case had been successful, he - and any other man in his situation - would have had to take legal responsibility for the child.

Q: What are the implications of the court judgements?

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.


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


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