Natallie Evans today vowed not to give up the fight to be able to use her frozen IVF embryos to have a baby.
After losing a landmark European ruling on her right to use her embryos – her last hope to have a child that is genetically hers – she said she would be requesting that the case be referred to the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.
She urged her former partner, Howard Johnston, who has withdrawn his consent for her to use their embryos, to reconsider so that she can become a mother.
Ms Evans was left infertile after being treated for cancer, but had already successfully completed a course of IVF treatment with Mr Johnston.
Her plans for children went wrong when the couple split up and he withdrew his consent for her to use the six embryos, which had been fertilised with his sperm.
Ms Evans told a packed press conference she was very disappointed to learn of the judgment on what should have been a day for her to celebrate, but said she had been given a “glimmer of hope” by the approach of the two judges who had dissented from the ruling.
“I’m still as determined as ever to do anything possible to have a child of my own using my stored embryos,” she said.
“I would still prefer not to use the courts. Howard may think it’s a lot to change his mind but it’s not.
"Howard, please think about it,” she urged.
Ms Evans said she thought Mr Johnston was wrong to prevent her having children using their embryos and urged him to think not only of the implications for himself but for her as well.
“I’ve tried every avenue with him to try and speak to his better nature and nothing has helped.
“But I would just say: ‘Please, think what you’re doing to me,’” she said. “I’m not going to give up. If I was going to give up, I would have given up at the first hurdle but I’m so determined.”
“I think I’m quite a determined person and I’m fighting for something I really believe in,” she said.
Ms Evans, who had both her ovaries removed when the cancer was diagnosed, said she felt Mr Johnston was being allowed to make the decision whether she could be a mother or not, a situation she said she would never be able to accept.
“Of course I’m not saying he doesn’t have rights, but he knew what he was going into when we first went into IVF,” she said. “He chose to become a father the day we created the embryos. That was his choice to be a father.”
When the couple entered the IVF programme, it was just after Ms Evans had found out about her cancer and she said she did not realise at that point that Mr Johnston could later withdraw his consent.
“I didn’t look at the small print at all,” she said.
Asked what it was like to know that the embryos were still available in a storage facility, she said: “It’s really difficult because they’re stored in Bath, about 20 miles from where I live, and I’m thinking: 'They’re there and I want them,' and there’s a law stopping me from having them and becoming the mother I so want to be.”
Ms Evans’ lawyer, Muiris Lyons, of solicitors Alexander Harris, said Ms Evans was very upset and disappointed with the ruling but took some encouragement from the judgment and particularly the approach of the two dissenting judges, who found there had been a breach of the 35-year-old’s human rights.
He also said the five majority judges had expressed their great sympathy for her plight and ended their judgment by reminding her legal team of their ability to ask that her case be heard by the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights.
But he said time was against Ms Evans, with the five-year statutory storage period for her embryos expiring in October, and said they would be inviting the Grand Chamber to hear her application as a matter of urgency.
The European Court has indicated that the embryos should stay in storage until any application to the Grand Chamber has been decided upon, he added.