Beth and Warren Brewer were together for 8 years, before marrying in December 2011.  Just 6 weeks later, Warren died of a brain tumour.

The couple knew that Warren was ill; prior to treatment in 2005, he had his sperm stored and over the following years, he gave repeated written consent that his wife should be allowed to use it posthumously.  Although Warren never intended to restrict Beth's options, the consent forms for storage were always time limited and the couple were never given the option to store the sperm for a longer period.

One month after Warren’s death, which was three months after her brother’s death, Beth was told she had six weeks to use the sperm (April 2012). Following legal involvement, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) reinterpreted existing paperwork and subsequently granted two short extensions, allowing Beth to use the sperm until April 2015. This means Beth would be need to begin IVF treatment in January 2014.

The regulations in question allow for the storage of sperm for up to 55 years, however only on the basis that consent is given to allow storage past the statutory period of ten years.  In this case, Warren is unable to provide further consent, even though his wishes were clear in the years leading up to his death.

The regulations were written with a clear aim in mind, but they were written for the living.  Beth is simply asking for more time.  After the death of her brother in December 2011, she had to balance grieving with caring for Warren, and continuing to work - as the sole earner, and self-employed, the couple needed the money.  During this, she deferred her MSc studies, and Warren lost his battle with cancer.

Having since returned to University and completed the course, she is about to start her career as a Physiotherapist.  She now needs time to rebuild her life and put herself into a position where she is able to consider what starting a family would mean, and all the ethical and moral considerations that go alongside.

While the HFEA have stated that they have sympathy for Beth's position, they say that they have no discretion to extend storage further. Beth is therefore asking the High Court to decide how long she should have to make this decision, and to consider the inconsistencies and injustices in the way that the legislation is applied in her case.

LD|D, her legal representatives, have prepared a press release.