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Woman applies to High Court to store sperm of critically ill partner

Date:16 JAN 2014

A woman, identified as ‘AB', has applied to the High Court for the right to store the sperm of her seriously ill partner in order to bear his children. The test case is due to be heard at the High Court over two days in February.

The man, referred to as ‘P', is in a life-threatening condition having suffered four heart attacks last month and is now relying upon machines in hospital to survive. AB argues that she is P's common law wife having accepted his marriage proposal with a ring last year and having previously had numerous discussions with him about having children together.

However, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the UK regulator that monitors the use and storage of human eggs, sperm or embryos, says that it has no power to licence the hospital to store P's sperm. This is due to the fact that P's consent is required under the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act. AB argues that P would have given consent for her to store the sperm and have his children had he known ‘he would be in his current state'.

Mrs Justice Carr ruled this week that AB's legal challenge should initially be conducted as a Court of Protection hearing since P lacks legal capacity due to his illness. Following on from that, the court would go on to consider her arguments against the decision made by the HFEA.