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1997: Widow allowed dead husband's baby

The Court of Appeal has made an historic judgement in favour of a widow being inseminated with her dead husband's sperm.

The 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act banned Diane Blood, 32, from using her husband Stephen's sperm without his written consent.

But the court has ruled Mrs Blood's case is unique - sperm should not have been removed in the circumstances.

The court said Mrs Blood should be allowed to seek fertility treatment within the European Community but not in the UK.

Mrs Blood, a freelance advertising executive from Nottingham, called the decision, "a victory for common sense and justice".

Stephen Blood caught meningitis in February 1995, two months after trying to start a family with his wife.

He lapsed into a coma and died before agreeing in writing for his sperm to be used, although two samples had been removed at Mrs Blood's request.


"The case raises problems for which there are no clear precedents"

Lord Woolf

Three judges, led by Master of the Rolls Lord Woolf, argued the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) had failed to exercise its discretion when it denied her the right to have her dead husband's child in March 1995.

The High Court upheld the HFEA decision last October in spite of European Community law permitting EC citizens the right to medical treatment in other member states.

In passing judgement - on what would have been Stephen Blood's birthday - Lord Woolf said: "the case raises problems for which there are no clear precedents and in relation to which the law is only clarified by the passage through the courts."

The HFEA - facing a bill for 100,000 in costs - is satisfied the Court of Appeal has clarified the law by confirming the extraction and storage of sperm without written consent is unlawful.

The final decision about the Bloods' baby rests with the HFEA which will meet in three weeks.

In Context
On 27 February 1997 the HFEA ruled Diane Blood should be allowed to export her dead husband's sperm as long as she attended a fertility clinic in Brussels.

Doctors at the Free University's Centre for Reproductive Medicine in Brussels took nine months to agree to give Mrs Blood fertility treatment.

Mrs Blood publicly announced her pregnancy on 27 June 1998.

She gave birth to her son Liam - weighing 5lb13oz - four weeks early on 11 December 1998 at the Jessop's Hospital in Sheffield.

On 17 July 2002 Mrs Blood gave birth to her second son - using her husband's frozen sperm - Joel Michael at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield.

She claimed victory in her legal battle to have her late partner legally recognised as the father of her children in February 2003.


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