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article imageWoman begins legal bid to keep dead husband's sperm

By Layne Weiss     Dec 4, 2013 in World
Birmingham - A woman is taking legal action to prevent her dead husband's sperm from being destroyed, so that she has the option to have his child.
Beth Warren, 28, of Birmingham, has been told by the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that the sperm cannot be destroyed beyond April 15, BBC News reports.
Beth's husband, Warren Brewer, 32, died of a brain tumor in 2012. He had his sperm stored at the CARE fertility clinic in Northampton before treatment and made it clear that he wished for his wife to be permitted to use it even after his death.
Beth and Warren were together for eight years. They married in a hospice just six weeks before Warren's death, and Beth changed her last name to Warren.
"I understand that it's a huge decision to have a child who will never meet their father, " said Mrs Warren. "I cannot make that choice now and need more time to build my life back. I may never go ahead with treatment but I want to have the freedom to decide once I am no longer grieving."
Beth went onto explain that her brother died in a car accident just weeks before her husband's death.
Initially, Mrs. Warren was told that the sperm couldn't be kept beyond 2013, but she has since been granted two extensions pushing back the deadline to 2015.
Her lawyer, James Crawford Davies, has argued that his client should not be forced into making the decision of whether or not to have a baby while she's still mourning the deaths of her brother and husband.
"Common-sense dictates that she should be allowed time to recover from the loss of her husband and brother and not be forced into making such an important reproductive choice at this point in her life," he said.
Mr. Lawford Davies, whose firm is representing Mrs. Warren for free, said the regulations had a number of contrarieties.
For instance, the sperm must be used by 2015, but if it is used to create embryos, the sperm can be stored for seven more years.
Additionally, the time constraints also mean that Mrs. Warren could use the sperm for only one child.
There is also no restriction on the exportation of the sperm. So in the future, Beth could be treated abroad.
Mrs. Warren has expressed her understanding that she might decide not to use her husband's sperm. She may meet someone else and decide to make a family with him, but she still wants the choice.
"I do not know what will happen in the future, and I would like to have the choice left open to be able to have my husband's child - as I know he would have wanted."
The fertility regulator at the HFEA has released a statement on this matter:
"The HFEA has every sympathy with Mrs Warren and the tragic circumstance in which she finds herself.
"We have been in discussions with Mrs Warren's solicitors for some time and each time new information has been presented to us, we have reconsidered the legal situation in as responsive a way as possible.
"However, the law on the storage of gametes is clear and the HFEA has no discretion to extend the storage period beyond that to which her husband gave written consent."
The case will be heard next year by the Family Division of the High Court.
In 1997, Diane Blood won the right to use her dead husband's sperm to have a child.
The Court of Appeal ruled against the HFEA ruling that Mrs. Blood should be permitted to seek treatment abroad.
This case differs from Beth Warren's case in that Mrs. Blood's husband's sperm was removed when he was in a coma and without his written consent. Beth Warren's husband made the decision to have his sperm stored prior to radiotherapy treatment. He also signed several consent forms stating that his wife should be allowed to use the samples.
Mrs. Blood had two sons after treatment in Belgium.
More about Sperm, Dead husband, beth warren, Fertilization, embryology
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