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Posthumous conception: Woman lobbying to use her deceased husband’s sperm

A woman in the UK has launched a legal bid to prevent her deceased husband’s frozen sperm from being destroyed. Beth’s husband Warren died of a brain tumour in February 2012 at the age of 32. He had his sperm cryopreserved (frozen) before undergoing cancer treatment, and gave permission for his wife to use his sperm to conceive a child after his death.

Beth says she isn’t ready to have a child at this time, given that she is recovering from the recent loss of her husband, and also the loss of her brother who passed away two weeks before Warren, but she wants to have the option in the future. However, apparently her husband’s consent has lapsed. After being granted two brief extensions, Beth has been told by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that the sperm cannot be stored beyond April 2015.

Her lawyer, James Lawford Davies, argues that the HFEA’s 2009 regulations are unjust and inconsistent. He says that Beth should be given time to recover from the loss of her husband and brother, and not be forced to make this important reproductive decision when she is not yet ready.

The case will be heard in 2014. If her case is dismissed and the sperm must be used before April 2015, Beth has a couple options: the sperm can be thawed and used to create embryos which could be stored for up to 7 years, or the sperm could be exported to another country where she could receive treatment in the future.

Read more about the case here.

UPDATE:

Beth Warren has been granted permission by the High Court to store her deceased husband’s sperm after April 2015. The judge ruled that the deadline should be extended to protect the couple’s right to a family life. Read more here.

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