Iron bars do not a prison make

Michael Cook
9 March 2013
Reproduced with Permission

The UK wants to ban prisoners from accessing government-funded fertility treatment while they are behind bars. Justice Secretary Chris Grayling says: "I am extremely concerned about prisoners having access to artificial insemination, which is why I am reviewing the policy with a view to banning it. There can be no clearer example of why we need changes to the human rights framework."

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled that blocking access to IVF and artificial insemination may breach inmates' right to a "private and family life".

After a murderer who married a penpal from prison won the right to access treatment in 2007 by appealing to the ECHR, 13 prisoners in England and Wales have followed suit. One of the applications was approved in 2011.

In December, the media discovered that five life prisoners - four murderers and a convicted drug dealer - had asked to be allowed NHS fertility treatment so that they could father a child from prison. Two of the five have already been refused while the remaining cases are still being considered.

At the time, Mr Grayling commented: "I don't believe the originators of the Convention on Human Rights ever imagined it being used for things like this."