British Women Can’t Implant Embryos Against Partner’s Wishes

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 1, 2003   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Women Can’t Implant Embryos Against Partner’s Wishes

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 1, 2003

London, England ( — Two British women lost a court battle to implant human embryos in them against the wishes of their partners.

Both women underwent in-vitro fertilization treatment before breaking off their relationships. Under British law, IVF embryos belong equally to sperm and egg donors.

One woman had six embryos created before she split up with her boyfriend, who wanted them destroyed after the relationship ended. The other woman had two dozen embryos made before she split up with her husband.

The 1990 Human Fertilization and Embryology regulates human embryos creation and storage and the women argued denying them a chance to use the embryos was a violation of their rights.

Their attorneys say that, had the women conceived naturally, their partners would have no say over the lives of the unborn children.

Pro-life groups opposed the ruling, according to the Cybercast News Service.

Jack Scarisbrick of the pro-life group Life told CNS that this case points to the need to ban in-vitro fertilization.

"This case is yet another example of the mess that IVF creates," he said. "IVF creates moral and practical dilemmas to which the only response has to be to ban the procedure altogether. The eight frozen embryos in this case have an absolute right to life. They are human beings, not potential human beings."

Josephine Quintavalle, who directs the pro-life Comment on Reproductive Ethics, hopes "they will continue their courageous legal fight in defense of their embryos, and if necessary take the case to the European Court (of Human Rights)."

The women have four weeks to file an appeal and they are considering their next actions.