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Woman making final embryo appeal


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A woman left infertile after cancer treatment is making a final appeal to a court for permission to use frozen embryos fertilised by a former partner.

Natallie Evans, of Trowbridge, Wilts, and Howard Johnston began IVF treatment in 2001 but he withdrew consent for the embryos to be used after they split up.


She turned to the European courts after exhausting the UK legal process.


Ms Evans, 34, says her appeal to the Grand Chamber of the European Court is her last chance to have a baby.


Ms Evans, of Trowbridge, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2001, but six of her fertilised embryos were frozen and stored prior to her treatment.


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


Ms Evans took the case to the High Court in 2003 asking for permission to use them without Mr Johnston's permission.


She has argued Mr Johnston 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 allow either party to withdraw that consent up to the point where the embryos are implanted.


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


Ms Evans then appealed to the European Court of Human Rights which again ruled against her earlier this year.


Court sympathy


A panel of seven judges made the ruling, which read: "The court, like the national courts, had great sympathy for the plight of the applicant who, if implantation did not take place, would be deprived of the ability to give birth to her own child."


But, in a majority verdict, it was ruled that even in such exceptional circumstances as Ms Evans', the right to a family life - enshrined in article eight of the European Convention of Human Rights - could not override Mr Johnston's withdrawal of consent.


It also ruled unanimously that the embryos did not have an independent right to life.


Her final route of appeal is before the Grand Chamber of the European Court.


Ahead of the hearing, she told the BBC's Heaven and Earth show: "I've got nowhere else to go after this. This is the end of the legal battle.


"Those embryos are potential children to me. I'm their mum and I'm their voice.


"No-one is speaking up for them so I'm speaking up for them."


Consent removed


James Grigg, the lawyer representing Mr Johnston, said Ms Evans had little chance of convincing the European Court of Human Rights.


He said the law "clearly" stated the use of the embryos requires the consent of both parties.


He said: "My feeling is that the application is bound to fail.


"There must surely be consent to parenthood in the interests of any child born as a result of IVF.


"In this case, if Howard's consent was removed and if Natallie Evans chose to proceed with IVF, he would be forced into becoming a parent."



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