Law and embryology

The law surrounding the rights of an individual has become more contentious over recent years, due to the expanse of Europe. With the advent of the European convention on human rights and are implementation in our own Human Rights act 1998. We all have more rights than ever and these convention rights has been raised in cases such as Evans v Amicus limited. However as well as a discussion on rights it also deals with interpretation of the relevant acts and how this interpretation affects the rights of people.

This case concerned two women who 'together' with their partners took part in the treatment of In Vitro fertilisation. During the fertility treatment the couple split up and ended their partnership. However there was still Embryo's being stored, and the women wished to use these even though they were no longer with their partners. The partners withdrew their consent, which is covered in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology sch. 3 para. 4(1).

This gives the right to either party of the in vitro fertilisation, to withdraw their consent, which effectively stops the treatment. Evans was pushing for a declaration of incompatibility under s. 4 (4) of HRA 1998, so that the HFEA 1990 would be discussed in the ECHR. The human rights, that were said to be interfering with art. 2 (right to life) art. 8 (right to private/family life), art. 12 (right to marry and start a family and finally art. 14 (right to non-discrimination).

However the Evans case failed, meaning there would be no change to the supposedly offending laws concerned. There was leave for appeal given by three courts of appeal judges on 16-1-2004. On appeal the human rights aspects will be looked at again and if it did succeed there would likely be a change to our laws. This was shown by the (deceased fathers) act 2003 which amended the HFEA 1990 in that it now allowed dead fathers to be placed on the birth certificate. Section 28 of the HFEA 1990 was found to interfere with art. 8 and 14 mentioned above.

Article. 2 (the right to life) were discussed in the Amicus case. This article gives protective rights to those who are born (Paton v U. K). It does not give rights to either foetuses or embryo's. If this were applied to these then a legal abortion would become illegal, even in cases where there could be death. This is further discussed in the cases of partial birth abortions. There was new legislation approved in the U. S last year for this, as it could be seen this type of abortion would be pushing the convention (U. S not part).

Art. 8 (right to private/family life) this article protects the private or family life of an individual so that it is not interfered with by the member state. This right was discussed heavily concerning the deceased fathers act. This is because the old section 28 would have interfered with the family life of the child of the deceased father. As the authority, involves the law, for none of the exceptions mentioned later, it was amended showing that it is possible to change wrong parts of the HFEA 1990 which should not apply.

The Amicus case showed art. 8, in that the argument was that it interfered with the right to family life, when the clinic refused to `use` the embryo`s due to the lack of male consent, due to the lack of consent. This like the other rights has the usual exceptions of public health; safety, morals, security or they interfere with the democratic way or rights of others. Therefore if any of these rights apply they should reply to everybody equally and as such any appeal should be dismissed. Article. 12. Is the right, to marry, and have children.

However it would seem that considering that they weren't classed as married and there is no child present, just an embryo and this has no rights. The right to have children would not seem to apply to men when women are carrying the baby and want an abortion, however, due to the facts there carrying the child it is logical to give them a final word but here was a case were an embryo was in storage. The final article that shall be discussed that concerns the Evans case was that of article. 14 about discrimination.

Again this was highlighted by the deceased fathers act, preceding which were two reports advising on the manner of the change in legislation. The Evans case shows less clear discrimination but applies it. The discrimination that is covered is that of race, sex, colour religion e. t. c. These articles are for the protection of people but as shown in the Amicus case they can be interpreted in different ways when having to read your own member states law in conjunction with it. The rights protect everybody and as such are difficult in situations like Evans.