UK & World News

  • 7 March 2014, 6:11

Widow Wins Ruling Over Late Husband's Sperm

A High Court judge has granted a woman the right to freeze her dead husband's sperm for up to 55 years in case she wants to have his child.

There were gasps in the court and Beth Warren's tearful mother reached forward to embrace her daughter when the judge made her declaration.

But Ms Warren said she was "downhearted" after learning that the regulator had been given permission to try to overturn the ruling.

Ms Warren and her husband Warren Brewer froze his sperm before he began radiotherapy in 2005 for a brain tumour.

The 32-year-old died in February 2012 and Mrs Warren - who took her late husband's first name as her surname - thought his sperm would be safe, if and when she chose to use them to conceive.

However, the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority (HFEA) ruled that paperwork completed by the couple was not sufficient for the sperm to be stored long term as Mr Brewer could not renew his consent after his death.

As a result, the frozen sperm were due to be destroyed in April next year.

In her declaration, Mrs Justice Hogg said she had sympathy for Mrs Warren who had fought for two years to get extensions and bring her case to court.

The judge said the Human Rights Act had come to the aid of Mrs Warren - specifically Article 3 concerning inhuman or degrading treatment and Article 8, which protects the right to have a family life.

She said: "I have held that (Mrs Warren) has the right to decide to become a parent by her deceased husband, for which he had made provision and which would accord with his wishes and intentions."

The HFEA explained its decision to seek leave to appeal, saying that it had hoped the court would find a way for Ms Warren to store the sperm for longer "without having wider implications for the existing consent regime".

It added: "However, because the judgment acknowledges that written consent to store the sperm beyond April 2015 is not in place, the judgment may have implications for other cases in which the sperm provider's wishes are less clear.

"We have therefore sought leave to appeal and will quickly consider the implications of the judgment before we decide whether to pursue an appeal."

Speaking outside court, Ms Warren told Sky News: "I would say that the legislation is incredibly complicated. It took us a long long time to go through it and work out things... I hope that this gets tidied up so that no one else has to go through this.

"For anyone thinking about this, I would say get in touch with your clinic and just make sure you've got all the consent you need.

"I really hope that whether it's the legislation, the paperwork or how the Human Fertility and Embryology Authority govern clinics, it will never happen again."

Warren Brewer's parents were also in court to support their daughter-in-law.

They told Sky News: "It's not fair that Beth had a limited timescale to make the decision and conceive - it's morally wrong.

"We are delighted that common sense has prevailed."

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602, Freeview channel 82 and Freesat channel 202.

Advertisement