French woman asks court for dead husband's sperm

September 23, 2009 by Deborah Claude

A 39-year-old widow asked a French court Wednesday to allow her to retrieve her late husband's frozen sperm so that she can be inseminated and have his child.

Fabienne Justel wants a in the western city of Rennes to hand over several samples from her husband Dominique, who died from cancer just three months after their in June 2008.

Justel, who has three children from a previous marriage, plans to undergo in vitro in a foreign country because post-mortem is illegal in France.

"I want to fight for this child. I will do all that I can. I am not going to give up," said Justel after the brief hearing in the Rennes high court.

Her case ran into opposition from public prosecutors who said the contract between Dominique Justel and the sperm bank specified that the sperm could only be used if he was present and gave his consent.

Justel maintains that her husband decided to have his sperm stored after learning that he was terminally ill, hoping that their dream of having a child together could come true even if he was gone.

"For us, having a was the dream of a lifetime," said Justel earlier this year.

"When I was told by the sperm bank that it would be impossible for me to retrieve the samples, I was crushed because I was never told that this could happen," she added.

The woman has since become an advocate of "reproductive tourism", highlighting that countries elsewhere including neighbouring Spain have less restrictive laws.

During the hearing on Wednesday, Justel's lawyer made the case that the contract with the sperm bank was made on behalf of both Dominique and Fabienne Justel, who were legally married.

"When one of the spouses made a commitment, it was a commitment that applied to both of them," said lawyer Gilbert Collard.

The lawyer said however after the hearing that he did not hold out much hope of a ruling in Justel's favour. She is already considering ways of appealing, said Collard.

"We know that this is an emotional case but we must apply the law," said Michel Poignard, representing the CECOS sperm bank.

"The sperm can only be used for a patient who is present and consenting," he said.

The court is to rule in the case on October 15.

(c) 2009 AFP

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Sugar industry withheld evidence of sucrose's health effects nearly 50 years ago

November 21, 2017
A U.S. sugar industry trade group appears to have pulled the plug on a study that was producing animal evidence linking sucrose to disease nearly 50 years ago, researchers argue in a paper publishing on November 21 in the ...

Female researchers pay more attention to sex and gender in medicine

November 7, 2017
When women participate in a medical research paper, that research is more likely to take into account the differences between the way men and women react to diseases and treatments, according to a new study by Stanford researchers.

Drug therapy from lethal bacteria could reduce kidney transplant rejection

August 3, 2017
An experimental treatment derived from a potentially deadly microorganism may provide lifesaving help for kidney transplant patients, according to an international study led by investigators at Cedars-Sinai.

Exploring the potential of human echolocation

June 25, 2017
People who are visually impaired will often use a cane to feel out their surroundings. With training and practice, people can learn to use the pitch, loudness and timbre of echoes from the cane or other sounds to navigate ...

Team eradicates hepatitis C in 10 patients following lifesaving transplants from infected donors

April 30, 2017
Ten patients at Penn Medicine have been cured of the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) following lifesaving kidney transplants from deceased donors who were infected with the disease. The findings point to new strategies for increasing ...

'bench to bedside to bench': Scientists call for closer basic-clinical collaborations

March 24, 2017
In the era of genome sequencing, it's time to update the old "bench-to-bedside" shorthand for how basic research discoveries inform clinical practice, researchers from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), National Human Genome Research ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.