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infertile woman cannot use her frozen embryo [MRG]


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A woman left infertile after cancer treatment cannot use her frozen embryos to have a baby, the European Court of Human Rights has ruled.

Natallie Evans started IVF treatment with her then partner Howard Johnston in 2001 but he withdrew consent for the embryos to be used after they split up.

Ms Evans went to the Strasbourg court after exhausting the UK legal process.

She now hopes to appeal to the Grand Jury of the European Court, but still wants her ex-fiancé to change his mind.

Ms Evans said: "I'm still as determined to do whatever it takes to have a child of my own."

She added: "Howard may feel it's too late for him to change his mind, but it's not."

But Mr Johnston said: "It seems that common sense has prevailed.

"The key thing for me was just to be able to decide when, and if, I would start a family."

But he added: "I'm not thinking about this in terms of a victory."

Ms Evans' legal team had asked the judges to consider whether the UK law, under which the six stored embryos would be destroyed in October this year, was in breach of her human rights.

Right-to-life

In the court's judgement, decided by a panel of seven judges, said: "The Court, like the national courts, had great sympathy for the plight of the applicant who, if implantation did not take place, would be deprived of the ability to give birth to her own child."

But it was ruled, in a majority verdict that, even in such exceptional circumstances as Ms Evans', the right to a family life - enshrined in article eight of the European Convention of Human Rights - could not override Mr Johnston's withdrawal of consent.

It also ruled unanimously that the embryos did not have an independent right to life.

Cancer diagnosis

The UK's Court of Appeal and High Court had both ruled that Ms Evans, who is in her early 30s, could not use the embryos and she failed in her bid to take the case to the House of Lords.

Ms Evans, from Wiltshire, underwent IVF treatment following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer in which the embryos were created and placed in storage.

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

Current UK laws require both the man and woman to give consent, and allow either party to withdraw that consent up to the point where the embryos are implanted.

A Department of Health spokeswoman welcomed the European Court judgment.

She said the department recognised the distress caused to Ms Evans during the legal process, and added a review of the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, which included the issue of the storage of embryos, was currently underway.

'Ticking clock'

Josephine Quintavalle of the pro-life group Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said of the court's ruling: "It's an inevitable judgement, but a very sad one."

She said Mr Johnston had "become a father" when the embryos were created, and should have compassion for Ms Evans.

But Michael Wilks, of the BMA ethics committee: "It's the right verdict, but a terrible situation."

However Dr Wilks called for a change to the five year limit for embryos to be stored after one partner withdraws consent should be extended so there was less of a "ticking clock".

I think everyone has the right to have children, but what about an extreme circumstance like this, where the father doesn't want the child? But overall, it's hard to understand. What is wrong with adoption in place of a biological child?

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I think everyone has the right to have children, but what about an extreme circumstance like this, where the father doesn't want the child? But overall, it's hard to understand. What is wrong with adoption in place of a biological child?

This was a piece of the argument about abortion a while back. The two parents are both equally responcible for the child's birth, and for the child being raised. So this decision seems to be tough, but fair to the father.

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I don't think it's really similar to the abortion question. A woman should have the right to have an abortion even if the husband refuses because it is her body after all. I don't think the man has a huge arguement here, especially if he and the mother were to make a contract similar to the one sperm donors make, saying that the father has no legal responsibility about the child.

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Say I gave you a package to hold onto nine months and you broke it. The man should have an equal say in any issue regarding birth or anything. It's completely disrespectful to an entire gender of human beings to say that they can't have any say in what happens to their sperm and DNA. Of course in cases such as rape the man's right to his DNA should be totally ignored. But in cases like these, if the man doesn't want his DNA used, he shouldn't have to have it used. If he changes his mind, he should have the right to not have his DNA be used at all.

If that makes no sense I'm sorry. But essentially I agree with Mith and GPS.

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Hmm well no, I agree with Autumn now that the mother does not have the right to create a child without the father's consent in this situation, but the abortion topic (the woman has the final say in getting it or not) because pregnancy is a really huge thing, and all the things that follow it. I know it doesn't really sound fair, but biology is biology.

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carrying this over:

Pregancy is huge to both the mother and father.

Yes, but the man does not carry it inside of him for 9 month..

I was thinking more of the situation as the father wanting to keep the baby but the woman wanting an abortion, but same response, either way.

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Both parties should agree on yes. If one person doesn't want an abortion, then the abortion doesn't happen. See, the thing is that no matter how much protection you want to use when having sex you are still playing with fire. It's not that sex is a mystical taboo or anything anymore. It's just that it is something which, like anything in life, you should be willing to face the consequences. Whether that consequence be pregnancy, social ridiculue of some sort (it happens), or the guilt from an abortion (doesn't happen all the time, but as anyone can tell you this happens). I hate to use the phrase "tough luck" but I guess I should.

I'm willing to face any one of these consequences myself, and in the case a girl I impregnate wants an abortion I will support her in it. If she wants to have the child, I will also support her in it.

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Yes, but the man does not carry it inside of him for 9 month..

Doesn't matter, both parties should be willing to face the possible consequences. It's no different then playing around with drugs or anything. You should have the right to do it, but you should be willing to face possible outcomes.

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Doesn't matter, both parties should be willing to face the possible consequences. It's no different then playing around with drugs or anything. You should have the right to do it, but you should be willing to face possible outcomes.

Exactly. The woman carries the child for 9 months and both of the parents have to deal with the kid for the rest of their lives.

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Yes, actually. Unless the man is capable of taking on the physical aspect of the pregnancy, it should always fall to the woman to decide.

And if the woman keeps it as her own, she has to breast feed it and do tons of things for it until it's grown.

And going even further, I think that if a woman is forced to have the child if the father wants it, then she should never have to take care of it in anyway.

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Yes, actually. Unless the man is capable of taking on the physical aspect of the pregnancy, it should always fall to the woman to decide.

What about the physical aspect of raising a life? If the man wants his child, he should get it. The mother can then go wherever she wants, she doesn't even have to help raise it.

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