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Posthumous conception

We recognize that  decisions about whether to safeguard and pass on one’s biological heritage in life and after death (posthumous conception) have important and enduring implications for individuals, spouses, partners and families.

An individual’s fertility and biological legacy is precious and fragile and it can be lost through terminal illness (e.g. cancer), medical negligence, a fatal accident or unexpected death at any point. This makes it important to take proactive legal and practical measures to protect your or a loved one’s fertility and family building plans and not leave matters to chance.

Posthumous conception law (governing the use of eggs, sperm and embryos in assisted conception treatment after death) is complex in the UK. Consent to the use of an individual’s eggs, sperm or embryos comprising their gametes after their death is governed by specific legal provisions under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended). It also requires great care in the completion of HFEA Consent Forms at UK fertility clinics to ensure that an individual’s eggs, sperm and embryos can lawfully be used in posthumous fertility treatment in accordance with their wishes and that the legal requirements have been complied with.

We provide expert and bespoke legal advice and solutions to enable individuals to maximise and protect their own and a loved-one’s fertility. This can help safeguard biological legacy and future family building plans in the event of death.

We also navigate complex and sensitive situations where a loved one has died without providing clear lawful written consent to the collection, storage or use of their eggs or sperm (or embryos comprising their gametes) in fertility treatment or surrogacy. This includes bespoke applications to the English Court for orders to extract eggs and sperm, store gametes and embryos and use them posthumously in fertility treatment. This includes situations where:

  • An individual was in the early stages of fertility treatment but had not yet completed the requisite HFEA consent forms concerning posthumous conception before their unexpected death.
  • An individual was diagnosed with cancer and underwent urgent fertility treatment to preserve their eggs or sperm before surgery or chemotherapy but did not subsequently update their written consent to enable their partner to use their stored gametes in posthumous fertility treatment before their death.
  • An individual unexpectedly dies having previously undergone fertility treatment leaving behind their remaining stored eggs, sperm or embryos comprising their gametes but without lawful written consent to their use in posthumous conception.

How we can help

Our expert posthumous conception lawyer services include:

  • Bespoke legal advice on posthumous conception law in the UK.
  • Preparation of legal documentation.
  • Legal representation in court proceedings for posthumous conception (e.g. due to  difficulties with consent/omissions with HFEA Consent Forms).

We provide expert tailored legal advice and representation on posthumous conception law and fertility law including:

Package One

Posthumous conception legal review

This provides initial expert legal advice to support people undertaking posthumous conception (assisted conception involving the eggs, sperm or embryos of a deceased person). It:

  • Provides legal advice on posthumous conception law in the UK.

If you require legal assistance or wish to discuss your situation please get in touch

 +44 (0) 20 7965 8399

Bespoke legal services

We provide a range of bespoke legal services that align with your needs and wishes. Our legal expertise spans the medical, fertility and family law sectors, enabling us to provide cutting-edge legal solutions.

Well Known Cases

You can read more about Louisa Ghevaert’s leading expertise in posthumous conception law in the UK:

Y v A Healthcare NHS Trust & The HFEA & Z (by his litigation friend, The Official Solicitor) [2018] EWCOP 18, a first-of-its kind judgment in which Louisa was part of the wife’s legal team and secured a unique legal ruling from the Court of Protection to extract and store sperm from a fatally injured man for use in posthumous fertility treatment and featured in The Independent (13 July 2018) and The Times (14 July 2018).

In the News

Podcast “The Intricacies of Fertility Preservation” interview with Louisa Ghevaert and Eloise Edington of Fertility Help Hub (17 December 2020), also on podcast apps Apple, Spotify and Soundcloud

Apple podcast on Speak From The Body with Avni Touch entitled “Fertility law for modern families with Louisa Ghevaert” (26 February 2020).

“Why we need root and branch law reform” (BioNews 25 November 2019) and longer associated article “Why we need fertility law reform: the paradigm shift” (25 November 2019).

Emily Hartridge: Life you just can’t plan for it – (Fertility Road Magazine, 17 July 2019).

Rachael Bland’s fight to preserve her fertility is a battle fought by many modern women (Female First, 7 September 2018).

The significance of fertility: A landmark ruling on posthumous conception (BioNews, 3 September 2018).

Posthumous conception: a legacy in life, incapacity and death (Family Law Week, 20 August 2018).

You can read more in our News section.

 

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