A 60-year-old woman determined to use her dead daughter’s frozen eggs to give birth to her own grandchild has won a crucial legal victory in the second-highest court in Britain. The woman, referred to by the court of appeal in London as Mrs M, said she wanted to honour the last dying wish of her daughter, who died of bowel cancer in 2011 at the age of 28. The daughter had been adamant that she wanted her mother to carry her baby and have her parents raise the child.
The ruling is not the final word on the matter: the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the governmental agency that blocked Mrs M’s effort, said on Thursday that it would reconsider the case as soon as possible in light of the court’s judgment.
The authority, the government’s independent fertility regulatory body, ruled in 2014 that the daughter’s eggs could not be removed from London and taken to a clinic in New York. Mrs M wanted to use the eggs to create an embryo with sperm from an anonymous donor, but the authority refused to approve the transport of the eggs abroad on the grounds that the daughter had not given her informed consent.
The high court in London upheld the authority’s decision. Mrs M then took her case to the court of appeal. On Thursday, the appeals court found that the fertility authority had set the bar too high in determining consent, finding that there was “sufficient evidence of Mr and Mrs M’s daughter’s true wishes” for her mother to have, and raise, her own grandchild.
“They are never going to let me leave this hospital, Mum; the only way I will get out of here will be in a body bag. I want you to carry my babies. I didn’t go through the IVF to save my eggs for nothing,” the daughter was quoted as saying by the court, referring to in vitro fertilisation. “I want you and Dad to bring them up. They will be safe with you. I couldn’t have wanted for better parents. I couldn’t have done without you.”
The authority said its initial decision had been entirely predicated on the question of informed consent and that there was no law in Britain that limited the age at which a woman could be implanted with eggs that were previously frozen.
Any potential ethical questions raised by a woman giving birth to her own granddaughter was not within the scope of the authority, it said. During the appeal, lawyers acting for Mrs M warned that the frozen eggs could “simply be allowed to perish” if Mrs M. was prevented from forging ahead with the conception.