Legal fund launched to fight UK egg freezing time limit

Women who want to start a family are hoping to bring what is believed to be the first legal challenge against the UK’s 10-year time limit on storing frozen eggs.

A crowdfunding campaign has been launched by a group who say they have been told their eggs – and chances of having a biological child – are going to be destroyed.

Lawyers for the women said the legislation has failed to keep up with advances in technology, and argue the time limit may be in breach of their human rights.

Under the Human Embryology and Fertilisation Act, frozen eggs can only be stored in the UK for 10 years.

The campaigners believe current laws are outdated (Yui Mok/ PA)
The campaigners believe current laws are outdated (Yui Mok/ PA)

Eggs must be fertilised or moved to another country within this period, or else be destroyed.

The length of storage time can only be extended if a woman becomes prematurely infertile.

One of the women involved in the campaign, who does not wish to use her name, said: “My frozen eggs represent my last chance of having a child that is biologically my own, and the clinic has told me they will be destroyed in a matter of months.

“It is hard to describe the sense of bereavement and turmoil that comes with being told that your eggs will be destroyed.

“I believe that women should have the right to choose when to have children, not be scared into having them before they are ready because they are worried about future infertility.”

The campaigners have set an initial fundraising target of £3,000 to cover preparatory legal work.

Salima Budhani, a solicitor at Bindmans LLP who is acting for the women, said: “There have been significant medical advances and social progress since the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 passed through Parliament but the rules relating to non-medical egg freezing have not changed.

“The issues arising for women who are facing the storage limit clearly fall within the remit of human rights law, which protects the right to private and family life, and the unduly restrictive time limit is very likely vulnerable to challenge.”

Baroness Deech, former chairwoman of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, said: “Many women long to preserve their chances of motherhood. A simple change to the law would give them this hope.

“It is wrong to destroy their future plans on the basis of an arbitrary storage time limit.

“The Government must surely show humanity and common sense and bring the law into line with modern times.”

– The campaign can be found at www.crowdjustice.com/case/extend-egg-storage-limit