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Embryo Lawsuit Begins in Britain

September 11, 2002

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LONDON (AP) _ Two British women began a High Court action Wednesday to stop their former partners from destroying frozen embryos the couples put into storage while they were still together.

Lawyers for Natallie Evans and Lorraine Hadley filed papers in the court as the first step to challenging a law that says both parties must consent to the storage and use of frozen embryos. The women argue the law violates their human rights because they are now infertile.

Evans placed six frozen embryos into storage before she had cancer treatment, and her action is against her ex-fiance, Howard Johnston, and a fertility clinic.

Hadley has two embryos in storage dating from her relationship with ex-husband Wayne Hadley and is bringing a similar action.

Muiris Lyons, the women’s lawyer, said the case would affect everyone in Britain undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment.

``The law as it stands gives their respective former partners a complete veto. They say that is unfair and discriminatory,″ said Lyons.

``It is important from the wider public aspect that the law is clarified because there is certainly ambiguity at the moment. Hopefully this case will clarify the position.″

Lyons said lawyers would argue that if Evans and Hadley had become pregnant naturally and the embryos were in their bodies, their partners would have no say at all.

In the United States, several state Supreme Courts have ruled in favor of destroying frozen embryos when divorced or estranged partners have disagreed over their future.

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