Widow taking sperm fight to court

A widow is going to court over her battle to have a time limit on using her dead husband's sperm lifted.

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Beth Warren wants a time limit on using her dead husband's sperm to be lifted

A widow is going to court over her battle to have a time limit on using her dead husband's sperm lifted.

Beth Warren, who lost her husband to cancer last year, said she should have freedom to decide in her own time when she is ready to have a child, after being told by the UK's independent fertility regulator that the sperm cannot be stored beyond April 2015.

Her husband Warren, a ski instructor, was diagnosed with a brain tumour and had sperm stored in 2005 before undergoing radiotherapy.

He died in February last year, weeks after Mrs Warren's brother was killed in a car accident.

The couple were together for eight years, marrying in a hospice six weeks before 32-year-old Mr Brewer's death.

Mrs Warren, from Birmingham, today told the BBC she wanted to be free to make her decision "at a time when I am emotionally and financially ready".

The 28-year-old physiotherapist said her husband had filled in consent forms for use of the sperm in the event of death, but that "all the forms that came were all time-limited" and there was no option for unlimited storage.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) said it has "no discretion to extend the storage period beyond that to which her husband gave written consent''.

The final consent lapsed in April but there have been two short extensions granted since Mrs Warren began her campaign.

There is no medical issue for the time limit, according to Mrs Warren's lawyer James Lawford Davies, who added there was also "no dispute" that Mr Brewer consented to use of his sperm after his death.

He said: "We regulate IVF and the use of gametes and embryos very tightly in the UK, but the difficulty here is that we cannot go back to Warren and ask his permission for extending storage, but there's absolutely no dispute that he wanted Beth to be able to use the sperm after his death.

"It's not whether we can use it, it's just a question of when."

He said: "Here, it's clear that Warren gave repeated consent to storage, and I'm not aware of a case exactly like it where we are asking the court to review the law as it applies in this very vague, uncertain situation."

The case will be heard next year by a judge from the Family Division of the High Court.

The HFEA has said while it has "every sympathy" with Mrs Warren's circumstances and has always reconsidered her argument whenever new information has come to light, "the law was clear" and it had no discretion to extend storage beyond the period to which Mr Brewer had consented.