A 28 year old widow has won a legal battle to use her dead husband’s sperm if she wants to have children in the future.
Warren Brewer died in February 2012 at a hospice after battling a brain tumour. He had been in a relationship with Beth Warren for eight years, since she was 18 years old. The couple married in the hospice just six weeks before he died.
Before Mr Brewer had radiotherapy to treat his tumour he froze his sperm, signing a document explaining that his wife could use his sperm in the future if he died and that his name could be added to the birth certificate of any resulting children.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, who opposed the use of Mr Brewer’s sperm, argued that under official regulations they had to have specific written consent from Mr Brewer granting permission to store his sperm after 2015. The written consent provided before he died did not address time periods and therefore did not comply with the regulations.
However, the judge ruled in Beth Brewer’s favour, allowing her to use her husband’s sperm in the future if she so wishes. As such, the sample will remain in cold storage until such time. The judge emphasised that her decision was based on the fact that the fertility clinic had failed to properly explain the options open to Mr Brewer before he died.
In her judgement she said: “CARE [the fertility clinic treating Mr Brewer] failed to provide relevant information to Mr Brewer as to the options available to him and the necessary requirements of him, and failed to give him any option other than to consent for a specified number of years less than 10 years. It may be that other clinics have fallen into the same trap”.
Although the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority expressed their sympathy for Mrs Warren, they also reserved judgement on whether to appeal the decision as they believed it could have ‘wider implications’.
A spokesman said “because the judgment acknowledges that written consent to store the sperm beyond April 2015 is not in place, the judgment may have implications for other cases in which the sperm provider’s wishes are less clear”.