Widow Beth Warren Wins Court Fight To Keep Late Husband's Frozen Sperm

14/08/2014 16:59 | Updated 20 May 2015

Beth Warren court case

Widow Beth Warren has won the legal right to prevent her dead husband's sperm from being destroyed.

The 28-year-old said she was 'elated' when she heard the judgment.

Beth's late husband Warren Brewer died of a brain tumour in 2012. But he had given legal permission for his wife to use his sperm to have children after he passed away at the age of 32.

He had donated samples to be frozen prior to the commencement of his treatment in 2005, which have been in storage ever since.

But according to the fertility watchdog Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), the sperm could only be legally kept until April 2015.

Beth, who took her husband's first name as her surname after he died, mounted a legal challenge to the storage time limit.

The physiotherapist, from Birmingham, argued that she had little more than a year to conceive using the sperm of her husband.

Today Judge Mrs Justice Hogg, who heard evidence at a hearing in the Family Division of the High Court in London in January, ruled in Beth's favour.

There were tears and shouts of joys from Beth's family and friends, including her mother and her in-laws Kevin and Helen Brewer.

Beth said: "I am elated. Every good word in the dictionary. I hadn't dared to let myself believe it would happen."

She added: "Warren was my life. I know we didn't get that life we wanted. So we made this plan. Now I feel I can just move on in my life."

Earlier in the proceedings the court heard that doctors had advised Warren to freeze his sperm prior to commencing radiotherapy because of the high risk of infertility.

Beth's late husband signed over consent to store his sperm, so that his wife could use it posthumously.

The couple were married in a hospice six weeks before his death.

Beth had previously told the High Court that her late husband would not have wanted to place a time limit on her conceiving his child.

According to Beth, the couple had fallen 'head over heels in love'.

She said: "It was a long time ago that we made plans that when we are engaged and married we would have children.

"Ideally we'd have a boy and a girl and we talked about names.

"I am just trying to do the right thing. I have the full support of Warren's family in my legal battle and in whatever decision I make, and they have told me how proud they are of how I am dealing with the situation."

A lawyer representing the HFEA told the judge that officials sympathised with Beth, but insisted that her husband had not given written consent to his sperm being stored beyond April 2015.

But a lawyer representing the widow told the judge that the authority was taking an 'excessively linguistic and technical approach'.

Beth Warren court case

Jenni Richards QC said Warren wanted to ensure that his sperm could be used by his wife after his death and had made his intentions clear.

In her judgment, the judge acknowledged that Warren 'wished to keep open his option to become a father of his own child' and ruled that the sample should be stored until April 2060.

She said: "Notwithstanding his wishes and intentions, Mr Brewer did not provide written consent as required by the regulation, nor did he provide the requisite medical certificate.

"I am satisfied had he known what was required he would have done that which was necessary."

In a heartfelt message to Beth and her dead husband's family, she continued: "May I also add my great sympathy for her. She fell in love with a man, cared for him and loved him.

"I wish her and Mr Brewer's parents well, and ultimately whatever her decision may be I wish her and the family much happiness after such a difficult and sad time."

The HFEA was later given permission to appeal against the ruling by Mrs Justice Hogg.

A lawyer representing Beth said she was 'downhearted' by the decision to allow the appeal.

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