Mom Loses Fight to Make Dead Daughter's Dream of Motherhood Come True

baby feetFour years ago, a United Kingdom woman's 28-year-old daughter died of bowel cancer. Until now, the woman has hoped to bring her daughter's children to life, by serving as a surrogate for frozen eggs collected before her passing. But now that hope has died too, thanks to a ruling from the UK's high court.


The woman, who remains unidentified to protect her and her family's privacy, has stated that before her death, her daughter underwent egg collection in order to allow her mother to carry her prospective offspring to term, via a combination of donor sperm and IVF. The problem, according to the court, is that there's no actual legal evidence besides the surviving mother's say-so. While the late daughter did sign over her consent to have her eggs frozen after her death, she never signed anything granting permission for them to be used -- by her mother, or anyone else. And without that evidence, legal permission can't be granted for the eggs to be shipped overseas, to a lab in the USA where the necessary procedures can be performed.

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This is an incredibly sad story, but the fact that it's sad doesn't mean the court did the wrong thing here. Courts are in the business of examining the legal facts of a case, not ruling based on the emotional aftermath -- however painful that may be.

Imagine the precedent it would establish if anyone who staked a claim to a woman's eggs could be granted them, by a court's whim and without a sound legal basis, without that woman's explicit consent. Should anyone who freezes her eggs with the intention of using them for IVF have to fear that if something happens to her, her unused eggs could be demanded by any relative or friend who comes out of the woodwork? Someone's word, even a mother's word, can't be allowed to be enough for human eggs to be simply handed over.

Consent and bodily autonomy are serious matters, and even if it means making difficult choices, they are matters that must be respected. I'm sorry that this woman will lose the chance to meet her grandchildren, and I can't imagine how much heartbreak it's caused her. But thinking as the court has to do, in the service of all women who have their eggs collected and not just this one, I believe this was the right choice for them to make.

Do you think the high court should have let this woman have her daughter's eggs?

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