After a 5-year judicial battle, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has just lost its trial against a 60-year-old woman, who wished to use the frozen oocytes of her daughter who died of cancer in 2011
Hoping to become a mother by IVF, the young woman had frozen 3 oocytes while she was receiving her treatment. However, in 2010, her illness was diagnosed as incurable. From there, she asked her own mother to take on the role of surrogate mother and the doctors dealing with her case to take action in that sense.
In 2013, her 57-year-old parents thus got in touch with an American clinic near New York, in order to conceive a child thanks to a sperm donation. But their request was turned down by the clinic in charge of the oocytes. It claimed that their daughter had not signed any written consent before she died. Indeed, although she had filled in a form in which she agreed for her oocytes to be stocked and then used, she didn’t give any more information about how they were to be used once she died, and in particular concerning their exportation abroad and their fertilization thanks to a sperm donor. First, the High Court went along with this decision.
However, the complainant said that her daughter “had never expressed any other wish concerning the use of her oocytes, and that her desire had clearly been formulated”. The case was thus sent to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, who reminded the complainant of the risks, due to her age, of such a pregnancy. An obstetrician added that the chances of taking the pregnancy to its term without any danger were weak, but possible, with, however, the risk of reactivating a former breast cancer.
The High Court then adjudicated in favour of the mother, considering that the young women had no obligation to express her consent on paper.