The IVF girl with no dad

Daily Mail 20 February 2003

By Rebecca English

A girl of three born through IVF treatment has been left legally fatherless after a landmark ruling. . The controversial decision will spark debate over the laws governing test tube babies.

The child - known only-as R - has been at the centre of a protracted legal battle between her 'parents', who were not married, since she was born using an egg from the mother and donated sperm.

Under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, if a couple are unmarried the man who signs the consent form for IVF treatment is considered the legal father of any resulting children. That remained the case even if his own sperm was not used, as the donor had already waived his paternity rights.

But the Court of the Appeal yesterday ruled that, because the couple were no longer together when the woman used the remaining frozen embryos, her former partner has no rights over the child.

The judgment means the girl does not have a legal father and has a biological parent she will never know.

Speaking exclusively to the Dally Mail last night, the mother's former partner, who was left infertile by testicular cancer, expressed his disappointment. 'I am astonished at the court's decision,' he said.

'The law was designed to give children born through IVF an identity and in one fell swoop they have taken it away.'

He argued that he played as great a part to the decision to give her life as her mother did.

'Along with my former partner I went through; 'seven years of extremely stressful IVF treatment In order to have a Child of my own.

'The clinic chose a donors close to me as possible in terms of physical characteristics and when I see pictures of my daughter it is like looking into a mirror.

'I don't wish to attack my ex-girl-friend personally, but it is accepted that she was given the IVF treatment under false pretences. Now the courts have made our little girl fatherless and I feel totally let down, both for me and for her.

'I refuse to give up though - not just for our sake but for the 8,000 children that are born in this country through IVF treatment each year. This decision has opened a real can of Worms.'

The couple, from the north of England, met in 1988 but four years later the man, known in court as Mr B, became infertile.

Both wanted children and in 1997 and 1998 his partner - Miss 8 - tried donor insemination. In 1998 they attempted IVF, also without success. But in April 1999 Miss S started a new relationship and, unbeknown to her estranged partner, went back to the clinic.

She admits she 'misled' staff by not revealing she bad separated from Mr B. Had she done so, the clinic may have refused to use the ' embryos. This time she fell pregnant and In February 2000 gave birth.

Mr B, 40, applied to Liverpool Crown Court for access to the baby but was refused until she was three. Several legal battles followed before the case reached the Court of Appeal,

Mr B's solicitor, Karen Doyle, said he now planned to appeal to they House of Lords.

Speaking through solicitor Marion Robinson, Miss S, 35, said she was 'pleased with the verdict' but would allow Indirect contact to continue with Mr B until he had exhausted all legal avenues.