Six Months on, Why Am I Kept Waiting to Conceive My Dead Husband's Baby?

Article excerpt

This has been a difficult year for Diane Blood. The 33-year-old widow thought her battle for the right to bear her dead husband's child was won last February when the Appeal Court in effect forced the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Au- thority to allow her to seek fertility treatment abroad.

But having persuaded the courts of the justice of her case she has since faced the equally difficult task of convincing the doctors in the Belgian fertility clinic where she is seeking treatment that it would be right to go-ahead.

Yesterday, she was putting a brave face on the delay: "Everything is trundling along very slowly. I am fine and well and happy but I haven't started treatment yet. I am going through the processes that they require in Belgium." She said the clinic, at the Free University of Brussels, required patients to undergo counselling before treatment began, as in Britain. "You do not have an automatic right to treatment. The clinic decides whether to offer treatment taking account of the welfare of the child. It is up to the individual doctors to decide who they treat and who they don't. I am still going through that process." Ms Blood was referred to the clinic by her doctor in Britain after the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority ruled that sperm taken from her husband while he lay in a coma before he died from meningitis had been removed without written consent and it would be against the law for her to use it for treatment in Britain. When she applied to export the frozen sperm to Belgium, the authority at first refused but later relented after intervention of the Appeal Court. At the time of the case, Paul De Vroey, clinical director of the Centre for Reproductive Medicine at the Brussels Free University, said there was no guarantee that Mrs Blood would be treated. He said she would be interviewed and would receive counselling and her request would then be considered by the clinical team before going to the ethics committee for the final decision. The case provoked widespread criticism of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which was accused of being "callous and pedantic", and the last government ordered a review of the law. …