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Court denies mother’s bid to carry daughter’s child

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March 28, 2024

The High Court has rejected a 59 year-old mother’s bid to carry her own grandchild.

The unnamed woman, who lives in the US, sought access to the eggs frozen by her daughter and stored in an IVF clinic during cancer treatment which ultimately proved unsuccessful. Before her death, the mother claimed her daughter had expressed a wish for the eggs to be fertilised by sperm donation and carried by her, but no written evidence existed to substantiate this claim.

Consequently, last year the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) refused the woman permission to remove the eggs from storage and have them sent to the United States because there was insufficient evidence of the daughter’s wishes.

The mother pursued the matter through the courts, arguing that the HFEA’s ruling represented a “disproportionate interference” with her rights to a family life, under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The daughter had made her wishes known in conversations with her mother, her counsel argued, while in a statement the mother declared:

“She was clear that she wanted her genes to be carried forward after her death. She had suffered terribly, and this was the one constant in her remaining years from which she never wavered.”

But, sitting in the Queen’s Bench division of the High Court, Mr Justice Ousely noted that the mother’s request was incompatible with the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 because no written consent to the use of her eggs had been left by the daughter.

The Judge therefore concluded:

“I must dismiss this claim, though I do so conscious of the additional distress which this will bring to the claimants, whose aim has been to honour their daughter’s dying wish for something of her to live on after her untimely death.”

The HFEA regulates and inspects fertility clinics in the UK.

Read the judgement here.

The blog team at Stowe is a group of writers based across our family law offices who share their advice on the wellbeing and emotional aspects of divorce or separation from personal experience. As well as pieces from our family law solicitors, guest contributors also regularly contribute to share their knowledge.

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