Relaymedia

British Woman Loses Fight for Frozen Embryos

A British woman has lost her appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to have children using frozen embryos fertilized by her former partner, who no longer wants her to have his baby.
( [email protected] ) Apr 11, 2007 01:00 PM EDT

LONDON – A British woman has lost her appeal to the European Court of Human Rights to have children using frozen embryos fertilized by her former partner, who no longer wants her to have his baby.

The case of Natallie Evans of Wiltshire, U.K., has been at the center of an ethical debate after cancer treatment had left her infertile. She had described her appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court in Strasbourg, France, as her last attempt to have a baby.

Reading out a statement at a news conference in London following the decision Tuesday, Evans, 35, said: "I am distraught. It is very hard for me to accept that the embryos will now be destroyed and I will never become a mother."

Howard Johnston, Evans’ former fiancé had asked the clinic holding the embryos to destroy them once they separated. He said: "I feel that once again, it looks like common sense has prevailed."

Johnston said he wanted to have the choice about when and with whom he would become a parent.

In 2000, Evans and Johnston sought fertility treatment at a British clinic. During an examination she was diagnosed with a pre-cancerous condition of her ovaries.

Prior to her ovaries being removed, the couple sought IVF treatment – creating six embryos that were then frozen and stored.

Later the couple separated, and Johnston refused to consent to the embryos being used, arguing he did not want the financial or emotional burden of being a father to a child he would not bring up.

In its ruling Tuesday, the Grand Chamber upheld a previous decision by a European Court that rejected Evans’ argument that her human rights were being infringed by her former fiancé blocking her using the embryos.

The court said that there had been no violation to the right to life and respect for private and family life, as upheld by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.