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Friday, 25 August, 2000, 08:14 GMT 09:14 UK
Posthumous fathers to be recognised
Diane Blood and son Liam
Diane Blood fought to use her dead husband's sperm
Men who become fathers after death thanks to IVF techniques are to be recorded on their baby's birth certificate.

Until now, any child conceived posthumously has been legally registered as fatherless under the terms of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act.

But on Friday the government announced plans for a change in the law.


It is very important for these children and their mothers because it means that the biological facts will be recorded as they truly are

Diane Blood

The announcement follows a review of the system set up after the high profile case of Diane Blood.

Mrs Blood was forced to go abroad to use the sperm of her dead husband in fertility treatment.

She gave birth to a son in 1998 but was unable to register her dead husband's name on the birth certificate because he was not alive at the time of conception.

Shortly afterwards the government set up a review headed by Sheila Maclean, professor of ethics in medicine at the University of Glasgow, to examine the issue of posthumous conceptions.

The government has also accepted another of Professor Maclean's recommendations, that women such as Mrs Blood should be allowed to add the name of the father to the birth certificate retroactively.

Diane Blood 'happy'

Mrs Blood told BBC News Online that she welcomed the government announcement.

She said: "It is very important for these children and their mothers because it means that the biological facts will be recorded as they truly are.

"Until now mothers have effectively had to lie when asked whether they knew the father of their child."

Mrs Blood said the change would also mean that the rights of the father's family would be recognised in any issues surrounding custody.

However, Mrs Blood said she was disappointed that the government had refused to make legal the use of sperm or eggs taken from a spouse without their consent.

She was unable to seek consent from her husband, because he fell rapidly into a coma after contracting meningitis.


These children should have the right to have their father's name registered on their birth certificate

Yvette Cooper, Public Health Minister

Announcing the government's plans, Yvette Cooper, Minister for Public Health, said: "These proposals will build on existing law to form a sensible and balanced framework governing what will always be difficult and emotional circumstances.

"The Government rarely proposes that legislation should be retrospective, but in the unusual case where families are unable to put the father's name on the birth certificate where his sperm has been used after this death, this is exactly the right thing to do.

"These children should have the right to have their father's name registered on their birth certificate."

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See also:

11 Jul 00 | Background Briefings
The future of fertility
20 Dec 99 | Health
Fight for dead man's sperm
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