High Court decision to decide on widow’s right to keep dead husband’s sperm

mpmc beth warren and husband
mpmc beth warren and husband

A High Court decision to decide whether a grieving widow from Milton Keynes can keep her dead husband’s sperm, is expected later today.

Beth Warren, faces having to give up on her dreams of having a baby fathered by her late husband, Warren Brewer after he lost a brave fight with cancer.

The couple always wanted to have children, but their dreams were cruelly shattered when he died of a brain tumour in February 2012.

The 28-year-old from Newport Pagnell, who took her husband’s Christian name as her surname following his death, launched a legal battle to give her the chance of realising their dream and having his baby. The case was heard in the High Court on January 31.

Speaking on BBC’s Breakfast programme this morning Beth said she was really nervous ahead of the long awaited decision as she really didn’t know which way it would go.

Beth told the Citizen the couple had been together for eight years and married in Willen Hospice six weeks before Warren, a skiing and snowboarding instructor from Woburn Sands, died aged just 32. They had been planning to get married for some time but cancelled their original wedding because of Warren’s condition.

After first falling ill just 10 months into their relationship, Warren stored samples of his sperm ahead of starting gruelling cancer treatment which had the potential to leave him infertile.

The storage period was time-limited and, over the years, he regularly extended it. He also repeatedly agreed to his sperm being used by Beth after his death.

However, he died before he could complete the forms again in 2012, meaning his sperm is set to be destroyed in April 2015.

Beth says this means she would need to start IVF treatment immediately to have a child before the samples are destroyed. Furthermore, she would be unable to conceive the second child she and Warren had planned.

Beth admits she may never be ready to have a child who will never meet its father, but wants more time to decide, and become emotionally and financially secure first.

“It would set a legal precedent, meaning no other widow or widower would face this situation,” said Beth, who works as a physiotherapist.

“I’m looking forward to it being over, but I’m trying to stay as hopeful as possible. I’ve got to do everything I possibly can.

“I’ve not slept properly since the day the legal battle started. I know he wanted to give me this option. But is it fair on the child to bring them into a world where they will never meet their father?”

Beth is not only grieving for her husband, but also her brother, Edward, a Thames Valley Police officer who was killed in a car crash just weeks before Warren’s death.

A month after Warren died, Beth says she was told she had just six weeks to use his sperm as the last consent form lapsed in April 2013, But the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority (HFEA) reinterpreted existing paperwork and granted two short extensions.

The High Court will determine whether the storage period can be be extended indefinitely, but the HFEA insists the storage period cannot be extended without Warren’s consent.

The HFEA stated it had ‘every sympathy’ with her, but insisted the law could not be changed.

It said in a statement: “We have been in discussions with Mrs Warren’s solicitors for some time and each time new information has been presented to us, we have reconsidered the legal situation in as responsive a way as possible.

“However, the law on the storage of gametes is clear and the HFEA has no discretion to extend the storage period beyond that to which her husband gave written consent.”

Beth said: “I’m still heartbroken and need to first find happiness within myself.

“Warren’s family are all behind me and my family and friends have been extremely supportive.

“If, and when I’m ready, I want the chance to be able to have his baby.”