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Last Updated: Monday, 14 February, 2005, 11:18 GMT
Frozen embryo case goes to Europe
Natallie Evans
Natallie Evans wants to try for a baby
A woman left infertile after cancer treatment has taken her fight to use frozen IVF embryos to have a baby to the European Court of Human Rights.

Natallie Evans, from Wiltshire, started IVF treatment with her then partner Howard Johnston in 2001.

However, the couple split up and Mr Johnston withdrew his consent for Ms Evans to use the embryos, which had been fertilised with his sperm.

The Court of Appeal ruled in June that Ms Evans could not use the embryos.

I have to pursue every possible route to save my embryos
Natallie Evans
Ms Evans lodged an application with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg on Monday.

She is asking the court to consider whether the UK law, which now requires her six stored embryos to be destroyed, is a breach of her human rights.

Ms Evans underwent IVF treatment following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.

Six embryos were created and placed in storage.

Ms Evans applied to the High Court for permission to use the embryos in IVF treatment.

She argued that Mr Johnston, from Gloucester, had already consented to their creation, storage and use, and should not be allowed to change his mind.

Repeated rejections

Natallie has now been left with no choice other than to take her case to Europe
Muiris Lyons
However, her case was dismissed both by the High Court, and later by the Court of Appeal. The House of Lords then decided it would not consider the case.

The current Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act - which governs IVF treatment - says that consent from both man and woman is vital at every stage of the process.

Muiris Lyons, of solicitors Alexander Harris, who are representing Ms Evans, said: "Natallie has now been left with no choice other than to take her case to Europe.

"She feels very strongly that she should be allowed to use her stored embryos.

"She cannot understand that the law requires them to be destroyed when they represent her last chance to have a natural child of her own.

"If the UK law says that Howard can change his mind at any time, then Natallie feels that the law is unfair and breaches her human rights.

"It gives a man an absolute veto, which outside of the world of IVF and fertility treatment he would not enjoy.

"It effectively discriminates against women who have to undergo IVF treatment because of infertility."

Right to life

Ms Evans is also arguing that the UK law unnecessarily interferes with her right to a private and family life.

She also believes the embryos may have a qualified right to life of their own.

This argument has not yet been considered by the European Court of Human Rights in the context of IVF and fertility treatment.

The court's ruling could have a profound effect on the law, medicine and science.

Ms Evans said: "I feel that I have to pursue every possible route to save my embryos.

"I hoped that I could have done so in the UK, but I now have no other choice but to take my case to Europe."

If Ms Evans is permitted to use the embryos then she must do so before October 2006, which is when the five-year maximum storage period under the law expires.

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