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

Explore further: Sperm mixup goes to U.S. court

Related Stories

Sperm mixup goes to U.S. court

September 27, 2006

A dispute between a man and the woman who may have had his child after a fertility clinic mistake is now in the hands of an Oregon judge.

Rodent sperm work together for better results

January 24, 2007

Although, sperm are inseminated in millions each sperm goes it alone. However, under some circumstances it might be advantageous for sperm to cooperate with one another. This is especially likely to be the case when females ...

Sperm whales return to Mediterranean

February 14, 2007

Marine biologists in Italy say the sperm whale, once thought to have been nearly wiped from the region by drift nets, has returned to the Mediterranean.

Viagra could be harmful to fertility

February 25, 2008

A study to be published in the British medical journal Fertility and Sterility suggests that Viagra could harm men's fertility.

Israeli sperm bank posts diminishing returns

May 11, 2009

Wall Street giants are not the only banks hit by diminishing assets. New research for an Israeli sperm bank shows that depositors are 40 per cent less fertile than a decade ago, the Haaretz daily reported.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Cow embryos reveal new type of chromosome chimera

May 27, 2016

I've often wondered what happens between the time an egg is fertilized and the time the ball of cells that it becomes nestles into the uterine lining. It's a period that we know very little about, a black box of developmental ...

Shaving time to test antidotes for nerve agents

February 29, 2016

Imagine you wanted to know how much energy it took to bike up a mountain, but couldn't finish the ride to the peak yourself. So, to get the total energy required, you and a team of friends strap energy meters to your bikes ...


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.