‘I want my late husband’s children’: the fight for posthumous conception

Three widows have been brought together through their battle for the right to have their partners’ children. But should it be a decision for the courts?

Beneath the gloomy gothic archways of the Royal Courts of Justice’s court 33, Samantha Jefferies is fighting the government for the right to have her husband’s baby. Barristers for both sides have made their case and Judge Sir James Munby, president of the family division of the high court, has given her the chance to have the last word. “I’m crossing my fingers that the right decision will be reached at the end, and it’s quite clear what that would be,” Jefferies says, her voice small but calm. “I want my late husband’s children.”

At 42, Jefferies feels she is too young to be a widow, and too young to give up on her dream of being the mother of her husband Clive’s babies. It’s a dream that is tantalisingly close to becoming reality: there are three tiny embryos made from his sperm and her eggs in a freezer in a Sussex clinic, created before Clive died suddenly in 2014. But the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has argued that they are being stored illegally, and should be defrosted and left to perish. For the courts, the embryos are a legal conundrum. For Jefferies, they are her last chance of having the family she always wanted.

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Alex Vidal