U v. W (Attorney General Intervening)
Great Britain. England and Wales. Supreme Court of Judicature, High Court of Justice, Family Division
Family Law Reports 1997; 2: 282-303
Court Decision:  2 Family Law Reports 282; 1997 February 19 (date of decision). The Family Division Court dismissed the application by Miss U. for child support of twins, who were conceived using donor sperm and in vitro fertilization, from Mr. W. After an unsuccessful attempt with in vitro fertilization in England, Miss U. and Mr. W., British residents, had gone to Italy for a second round of in vitro fertilization, this time using a laser implantation technique. Because Mr. W.'s sperm was discovered to be of low quality, the use of donor sperm was suggested. With little discussion or time for discussion, both Miss U. and Mr. W. signed a declaration in Italian (but verbally translated by the doctor's assistant) that they accepted the anonymous sperm donation and acknowledged paternity. Mr. W. then returned home while Miss U. remained for the implantation procedure. The sole embryo created with Mr. W.'s sperm died; the doctor used six embryos created with donor sperm, three of which were lasered onto the uterus. When Miss U. returned, Mr. W. met her at the airport and ended the relationship there. Miss U. discovered she was pregnant with triplets, but on the advice of her doctor, underwent a selective reduction before later giving birth to twins. According to the European Commission's report "Ethics, Law and Practice in Human Embryology," the United Kingdom of Britain is the only member state to have set up a statutory body to control procedures using human embryos, and that body is the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority or HFEA. Italy, on the other hand, is the only member state to have no statutory regulation at all other than professional rules. The court determined that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 did not apply. Although Miss U. and Mr. W. did receive "treatment ... together" under the Act's provision on non-genetic paternity, the court was unpersuaded that "treatment ... together" gave rise to family life or a family relationship. In seeking treatment outside the U.K., Mr. W. would not have received counseling or had a discussion about the effects in the U.K. of such treatment. [KIE/SP]
Date of Decision: 19 February 1997
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