April 10, 2007 / 11:48 AM / 12 years ago

Woman loses frozen embryo appeal ruling

STRASBOURG (Reuters) - A woman on Tuesday lost a legal battle to have children using frozen embryos fertilised by her former partner, who no longer wants her to have his baby.

Natallie Evans looks down as she arrives at a news conference in London following the European Court's final judgement on her plea to use frozen embryos fertilised by an ex-partner April 10, 2007. REUTERS/Stephen Hird

Natallie Evans, 35, from Wiltshire, had been left infertile after cancer treatment and had described her appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg as her last chance to have a baby.

Media reports quoted her as saying she was “distraught” at the verdict. She was due to hold a media conference later on Tuesday.

Her former fiance Howard Johnston has asked for embryos he fertilised before they separated to be destroyed by the clinic where they are stored.

He said after the verdict: “I feel that once again, it looks like common sense has prevailed.”

He told reporters he was relieved at the decision, and that he wanted to be able to choose with whom and when to become a parent. It was a matter of principle, he added.

The court on Tuesday upheld an earlier European rejection of Evans’ submission that her human rights were infringed by British court rulings which said her former fiance was entitled to block her use of the embryos.

It said there had been no violation of the right to life, the right to respect for private and family life enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, or of the prohibition of discrimination.

“The Grand Chamber considered that, given the lack of European consensus, the fact that the domestic rules were clear and brought to the attention of the applicant and that they struck a fair balance between the competing interests, there had been no violation of Article 8,” the court said in a statement.

Judges in the High Court and Court of Appeal in London had said both the man and the woman must give their consent for the use of embryos right up until they are implanted.

Evans’ bid for a baby began in 2000 when she and Johnston sought fertility treatment at a clinic in Bath.

During an examination she was diagnosed with a pre-cancerous condition of her ovaries.

Before her ovaries were removed, she and Johnston had IVF treatment and six embryos were created. They were frozen and put into storage.

The couple later separated and Johnston then withdrew his consent for the embryos to be used.

He argued he did not want her to have his baby because he did not want the financial or emotional burden of being a father to a child he would not bring up.

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