A sixty-year-old British woman is fighting a court battle to use her dead daughter’s frozen eggs and to act as a surrogate for them in order to conceive a child. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the UK’s regulatory body for eggs and sperm, is fighting against her efforts, noting that the deceased did not grant permission for her eggs to be used following her death. Just last week the grandmother was granted approval for a full hearing on the matter.


As our U.K. ally Josephine Quintavalle of Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) notes:

The intention is to fertilise eggs from the dead mother with donated sperm (anonymous presumably), and if any embryos result for these to be implanted in what would in effect be the womb of the prospective child’s grandmother. It is impossible to seriously assess the incredible psychological burden which would be placed on a child created under these conditions, always supposing the procedure were ever to be successful.

While this case highlights the painful loss of a mother grieving her child—and the grandchildren she desperately wants to see brought into existence—such an extreme case does not make right the fact that it ultimately requires both the practice of surrogacy (even if altruistic) and the use of sperm donation. As our work has continually evidenced, these practices fail to protect the best interests of children and ultimately lead to even greater confusion and grief. While this situation is indeed tragic, granting permission for her to use these eggs would only make matters worse.

Image by rrrtem via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Christopher White, Ramsey Institute Project Director