Wife denied dead hubby's sperm

2009-10-15 19:17

Rennes - A French court on Thursday turned down a bid by a 39-year-old widow to retrieve her late husband's frozen sperm in order to have his child by insemination.

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

Justel hopes to use the sperm to undergo insemination in a foreign country, since it is illegal to carry out the procedure in France after the death of one of the partners, or in cases of divorce or separation.

But the court turned down her request, ruling that she was "seeking to circumvent the application of French law prohibiting post-mortem insemination."

Justel said she was "saddened" but not surprised by the decision and that she planned to appeal.

"It doesn't surprise me, I was under no illusions," she told AFP. "But I want my husband's sperm given back to me. I have no time to lose."

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

"For us, having a child was the dream of a lifetime," Justel, who has three children from a previous marriage, said earlier this year.

But public prosecutors countered that the contract between Dominique Justel and the bank specified that his sperm could only be used if he was present and gave his consent.

Since running into opposition in France, Justel has become an advocate of "reproductive tourism", arguing that other countries including neighbouring Spain have less restrictive laws.