Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Natalie Evans and why I disagree with her legal action

I do not know Natalie Evans personally, but I have followed her legal action for some time, as it throws up some interesting issues regarding the status of embryos in IVF treatment. The latest instalment of the story is here, but I will recap the salient facts.


Natalie Evans began IVF treatment after being diagnosed with ovarian cancer. The treatment resulted in six of HER ovaries being fertilised with THE HUSBAND's sperm, to produce six embryos. These embryos are currently in storage.

The marriage ended and her husband withdrew his consent for the embryos to be used by Natalie Evans. Consent from both parties, who were Equally Responsible and both contributed their Genetic Material to produce the embryos, is required at each and every stage of IVF treatment.

Natalie Evans has sought recourse to the law to overturn her ex-husband's withdrawal of his consent. She wants to use the embryos to give birth.

* END of Recap *

I believe that Natalie Evans' request should be denied access to the embryos.
The sentiment she expresses that I take particular exception to is this -

"I feel that I have to pursue every possible route to save my embryos"

I disagree absolutely with that word - MY. In point of fact, they are not Natalie Evans' embryos. Both Natalie and her ex-husband contributed genetic material. Natalie Evans needs to look up the meaning of the word 'Our'.

What about an alternative scenario, where Natalie Evans doesn't want a child, and her husband, having become impotent, wants to have the embryos implanted in his new partner. Natalie Evans refuses to consent. He wins a legal decision and takes ownership of the embryos.

Would that be right?

To my mind, no. Why? Because I believe that the fate of these frozen embryos must be reached through Agreement, as Both Parties have Equal Ownership of the material. What is the point of mutual consent, if, when parties differ on whether the embryos can be used or not, one partner simply uses the law to overturn the wishes of the other? That means that consent, and the opportunity to withdraw consent, never meant anything.

While I support women's rights absolutely, I do not feel that this particular case is about women's rights; it is about rewriting the rules to suit the desires of one of the parties. I cannot support a change in the law as a result of a decision that fails to respect the wishes of Both Parties, and that awards Sole Ownership of something produced with Both Parties genetic material, to a Single Owner.

I sympathise with Natalie Evans' position, but, in the interests of fairness to both Wives and Husbands who pursue IVF treatment, I hope this legal action fails.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

He ex husband is a very selfish men.
We just know who we are with after we slip, then we know the real caracter of the person

10:22 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

the decision to have a child is one of the biggest you can take, yet Mr Johnston is selfish if he decides he doesn't want the financial and emotional burden of having a child with his ex-partner.

interesting lack of logic.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about the fact that the ex-husband can continue on and have children of his own, while she can't? What if they had naturally conceived a child - 6 weeks into the pregnancy, if they break up, should he be able to say "We broke up, now have an abortion, because I don't consent to bringing this child to full term"?

6:59 PM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

so? should the husband be forced to have a vasectomy to "even the score"? life has its injustices, but the court's job is to rule on matters of legal fact.

as for the 6 weeks into a pregnancy comment, in what way is that a valid analogy?

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The European Court of Human Rights like any court does more than decide 'legal facts'. Law doesn't exist in a vacum. Questions of the extent of human rights or conflicts of rights are more in the nature of ethical/moral disputes than legal ones. The court could have decided differently and such decision would be as valid/or invalid as the present one. I think he's being very unfair. The burden to him of having a child somewhere that has no interest in parenting is not as great as the burden of never being able to have a child which he has imposed on his ex.

10:55 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

i never said the court exists in a vacuum, but righting the wrongs that life throws up is not its primary task. at each point the two people were made aware that consent from both parties was necessary at each step. but when Mr Johnston withdrew his consent, rather than respect this, Miss Evans launched a lawsuit predicated on the argument that it was not possible to withdraw consent as it violated her right "to family life."

That has been ruled against. It has nothing to do with Mr Johnston's being unfair or fair. Like a fool you keep harping on this point, but the point was Mr Johnston only exercised the rights that he was given under the agreements signed during the fertility treatment.

11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Mr Johnston only exercised the rights that he was given under the agreements signed during the fertility treatment."

So that makes it ok for him to condemn her to a childless life? If he didn't want children with her then he shouldn't have consented in the first place.

No doubt he'll go on to have his own children one day, and he'll know the love children can bring. Natalie will never know that, because he changed his mind.

Why are his wishes considered important, yet hers not? I'm not interested in the "it's the law" comments because the law sucks and always has done - this is somebody's life and it can't be passed off as to whether it's on the right side of legal or not.

10:47 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

why are you busily committing all the sins of being overemotional?

mr johnston did not condemn miss evans to a childless life. she can remarry someone with a family, she can apply to adopt. she can also have IVF treatment. it is only the chance to bear a child that is biologically hers that has been lost and it is miss evans illness that has rendered her infertile.

the consent was given within the context of a relationship. as is a matter of law, consent can be withdrawn by either party at each point in the process. why do you find the rules so difficult to understand?

miss evans wishes are of equal importance, not of no importance, but the law is clear that it requires the agreement of both parties. the embryos contain contributions from both of them and they both have equal say in their fate. the court clearly pointed that out.

i am really dismayed that your approach to debate is so lacking in reason. if you want to say "miss evans wish to bear a child that is biologically hers overrides everything in our legal system and every objection anyonye could ever make" then just say it and be done.

11:33 AM  
Anonymous Verity said...

Mr Johnston is not Ms Evans's "ex-husband". He's an ex-boyfriend. They were not in a formal, committed relationship.

11:38 AM  
Blogger kingfelix said...

Verity is correct, not that it substantively changes anything regarding the case.

11:40 AM  

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