Picture of boy being examining by doctor at a tuberculosis sanatorium

Understanding our future through Open Access research about our past...

Strathprints makes available scholarly Open Access content by researchers in the Centre for the Social History of Health & Healthcare (CSHHH), based within the School of Humanities, and considered Scotland's leading centre for the history of health and medicine.

Research at CSHHH explores the modern world since 1800 in locations as diverse as the UK, Asia, Africa, North America, and Europe. Areas of specialism include contraception and sexuality; family health and medical services; occupational health and medicine; disability; the history of psychiatry; conflict and warfare; and, drugs, pharmaceuticals and intoxicants.

Explore the Open Access research of the Centre for the Social History of Health and Healthcare. Or explore all of Strathclyde's Open Access research...

Image: Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust. Wellcome Collection - CC-BY.

Legal Commentary - R v. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, ex parte Blood

Neal, Mary (2017) Legal Commentary - R v. Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, ex parte Blood. In: Ethical Judgments. Hart Publishing. ISBN 9781849465793

Text (Neal-Hart-2016-R-v-Human-Fertilisation-and-Embryology-Authority-ex-parte)
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (472kB) | Preview


During the late 1990s and early 2000s, an unprecedented story unfolded in the UK media involving a young widow, Diane Blood, and her legal battle to bear the children of her late husband, Stephen, following his tragic death from meningitis at the age of only thirty. As the story unfolded in the media, the ethical and legal issues were explored in the courts and in academic commentaries.1 For all the controversy the case generated, the applicable law was clear and straightforward: the governing statute at the time of the case, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (hereafter ‘the Act’), prohibited the storage or use of gametes without the clear written consent of the gamete provider.2 Since the Act was unambiguous, and since Stephen Blood had never given his written consent to the storage or use of his sperm, there was no possibility of the HFEA permitting treatment within the UK. The question, therefore, was whether the HFEA would authorise the removal of the sperm abroad for treatment in another EU country. Initially, they refused, so the issue became a procedural one: had the HFEA reached their decision after appropriate consideration of the various factors which they were obliged to take into account? My concern here is not to examine the points of law which were directly at stake in the case, but to identify some wider themes which have relevance beyond the case itself and examine them from a predominantly (though not exclusively) legal perspective.