Natallie Evans, one of two British women who was legally prevented from using embryos kept in frozen storage by the withdrawal of consent by her ex-partner, has been given leave to take her case to the Court of Appeal. This means that she can ask the Court of Appeal to reverse the decision that the embryos must be destroyed and continue her fight to use them - her last chance to have a baby.
Last September, the UK High Court ruled against Natallie Evans and Lorraine Hadley, who had sought to use the embryos against a requirement of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, stipulating that consent from both parties is needed for continued storage or use of frozen embryos. Lorraine Hadley decided not to appeal the High Court's decision, apparently due to the withdrawal of her legal aid.
In October, Natallie Evans asked the Court of Appeal to consider the merits of her application and to decide whether or not to give her permission to appeal. Lord Justice Thorpe, Lady Justice Arden and Sir Martin Nourse, sitting in the Court of Appeal, agreed that her case raises important legal issues and so warrants a full appeal, which is likely to be heard in April or May.
Permission was granted on the basis of five of the seven grounds argued: first, that her former fiance had consented to treatment together with Natallie and intended for her to carry the embryos. Secondly, that the 1990 Act is wrong, if it allows consent to be withdrawn after the embryos have been created. Thirdly, that in any event, it is too late for consent to be withdrawn as, technically, the embryos have already been 'used' as part of Ms Evans' treatment. Fourthly, that she has a right to use the embryos as part of her human right to privacy and family life, guaranteed by Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Lastly, the law, by granting a 'male veto' over the use of the embryos, discriminates against her in breach of Article 14 of the Convention.
Muiris Lyons, Ms Evans' solicitor, said that 'Natallie is delighted and relieved that her fight to save her embryos is not over'. He added that she 'is confident that the Court of Appeal will accept that she should be allowed to use her embryos to try for the baby that she has always wanted'.