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In Vitro Treatment Only When Both Partners Agree, Rules European Court

Can a woman fall out with her partner but still insist that he agree to let his sperm to be used in vitro so that she could become a mother// ?

Natalie Evans of the UK fought long and hard, but it was her estranged partner Howard Johnston who had the last word.

The final court of appeal in Europe too has ruled against her.

Evans was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2001. At the time she and Johnston were living together. Six of the couple's fertilized embryos were frozen and stored prior to her treatment.

But a year later they split and Johnston promptly wrote to the clinic where the embryos were stored to destroy them.

Ms Evans took the case to the High Court in 2003 asking to be allowed to use the embryos without Johnston's permission.

She argued he had already consented to their creation, storage and use, and should not be allowed to change his mind.

Current UK laws require both the man and woman to give consent, and allows either party to withdraw that consent up to the point where the embryos are implanted.

Evans lost both the case and the appeal and was told she could not take the case to the House of Lords.

She then appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, which too would not grant her plea.

Her appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court under three articles of the European Convention of Human Rights represented her last chance to save the embryos. But again she failed. The ruling came on Tuesday.

After the decision, Evans said: "I am distraught at the court's decision. It is very hard for me to accept the embryos will be destroyed."

But Johnston said: "I feel common sense has prevailed. Of course I am sympathetic, but I wanted to choose when, if and with whom I would have a child."

Natallie Evans

But she and Mr Johnston, who lives in Gloucester, split up in 2002 and h e wrote to the clinic asking for the embryos to be destroyed.

Just because something is scientifically possible, does not make it socially justifiable Mohan, London

Dr Allan Pacey, secretary of the British Fertility Society, said: "I think it was the only sensible decision which the Grand Chamber could come to.

"UK law is clear. It is a principle of shared responsibility."

But he added: "We feel dreadfully for Natallie."

Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the British Medical Association's medical ethics committee, said the decision was welcome.

"Having a child is a life-long undertaking to which both partners should be fully committed."

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