Final tearful plea as embryo fight fails
A WOMAN left infertile after cancer therapy yesterday made a final plea to her ex-partner for permission to use frozen embryos, after her five-year legal fight ended in failure.
Natallie Evans broke down in tears as she spoke of her anguish at the prospect of never becoming a mother using her own embryos.
The 35-year-old appealed to her former partner, Howard Johnston, to change his mind and allow her to use the eggs he fertilised in 2001. The embryos are due to be destroyed within 28 days, after the European Court of Human Rights yesterday ruled against her.
She said: "I am distraught at the court's decision. It is very hard for me to accept the embryos will now be destroyed and I will never become a mother.
"Whilst a lot has been said about the rights of Mr Johnston, I was fighting for my right to be a mother and the rights of the embryos.
"I would ask Howard to consider whether he could permit me to have the children I long for, and which he was happy to consent to when the procedure took place to create these embryos."
Asked if she would make a last-ditch appeal to Mr Johnston, she said: "I have pleaded with him before and it has not worked; now there is nothing I can say to him.
"Last time I pleaded with him and asked him, 'Please rethink', and he didn't. He said nothing is going to change his mind."
Mr Johnston, 30, said he and Ms Evans had discussed other ways she might become a mother when the couple were undergoing IVF.
He said: "Being a mother is still an option to [Ms Evans] that does not involve me.
"I had hoped that commonsense and the legal framework would hold up. I'm grateful and relieved that it has done so."
Mr Johnston added:
"I don't think I have acted selfishly. If you turn this on its head and if I was infertile with a new partner, I wouldn't expect Natallie consenting to me using them."
He said he had not spoken to Ms Evans, but acknowledged she had been through an "emotional rollercoaster".
He added: "I've had every sympathy with Natallie from the first moment I knew I didn't want to have children with her, and it's the same now.
"I don't regret meeting her. At one point in our relationship, she was Miss Right."
The human rights judges said the central dilemma was an "entirely irreconcilable" conflict between Natallie and her former boyfriend. The issues raised by the case were "undoubtedly of a morally and ethically delicate nature", said the judgment.
There is currently no standard European approach to questions in the field of IVF.
The UK is not alone in permitting the storage of embryos and giving both partners the right to withdraw consent up to the moment of implantation, but different rules and practices are applied elsewhere in Europe.
There is no European consensus about the stage in IVF treatment when the sperm donor's consent becomes irrevocable.
LAST HOPE OF MOTHERHOOD
Q: Why did Natallie Evans have the embryos frozen?
A: In 2001, her ovaries were removed after pre-cancerous cells were found. The treatment would leave her infertile, so she first underwent in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) with then partner Howard Johnston. His sperm fertilised her eggs and six embryos were frozen - her only chance of having her own children.
Q: What is the process for IVF from frozen embryos?
A: Embryos are frozen in liquid nitrogen. They can be stored for up to five years.
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