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Appleyard BLondon: Weidenfeld & Nicolson; 2011

BBC News. Widow wins High Court frozen embryo case. 2016. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37493145 (accessed 24 October 2016)

Harwood KA On the ethics of social egg freezing and fertility preservation for non-medical reasons. Medicoleg Bioeth. 2015; 5:59-67

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Freezing and storing eggs. 2016. http://www.hfea.gov.uk/46.html (accessed 24 October 2016)

Jackson E ‘Social’ egg freezing and the UK's statutory storage time limits. J Med Ethics. 2016; https://doi.org/10.1136/medethics-2016-103704

Petropanagos A Reproductive ‘choice’ and egg freezing. Cancer Treat Res. 2010; 156:223-35 https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-6518-9_17

Robertson JA Egg freezing and egg banking: empowerment and alienation in assisted reproduction. J Law Biosci. 2014; https://doi.org/10.1093/jlb/lsu002

Ethics of egg freezing

02 November 2016
3 min read
Volume 24 · Issue 11

In September 2016, Samantha Jefferies, the 42-year-old widow of a Falklands war veteran, won a High Court case enabling her to keep frozen embryos that she and her husband had created (BBC News, 2016). Despite the couple having signed consent forms entitling them to 10 years' storage and posthumous use of embryos, the Sussex Downs Fertility Centre contended that the embryos must be destroyed as a 2-year storage period had expired. The clinic, however, later changed its position to support Mrs Jefferies.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA, 2016) notes that ‘the standard storage period for eggs is normally 10 years. This period can be exceeded only in certain circumstances’. But in an article that was written before the outcome of the High Court case was known, Professor Emily Jackson (2016: 1) argued that both the statutory time limit and the possible exceptions that permit extensions are not fit for purpose: ‘They work against good clinical practice and potentially represent an interference with a woman's right to respect for her family life, which is neither necessary nor proportionate.’

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