Scott Hurford, a convicted drug dealer serving life imprisonment in Wandsworth Prison, is awaiting the decision of Justice Minister, Jack Straw MP, on whether he and his girlfriend can apply for artifi cial insemination for his girlfriend to conceive whilst he completes the remaining 25 years of his sentence. Mr Hurford argues that, as he is aged 34 years, and his girlfriend is aged 37 years, “time isn’t exactly on our side”.
Whilst HM Prison Service has granted Mr Hurford’s request, the fi nal decision rests with Mr Straw. A prison service spokesperson explained that: “Prisoners may apply for access to artifi cial insemination facilities. Each request will be considered on individual merit against a number of considerations and any information which the applicants wish to provide in support of their application”. The prison service will consider a number of factors when deciding whether to permit fertility treatment, including the age of the woman and how long the couple has been together. Its main concern is the “welfare of the child who might be conceived”, but there is also the issue of funding for the IVF.
In recent years, there have been two other high-profi le requests by prisoners for the right to fertility treatment. In 2007, Kirk Dickson was awarded £18k in damages and costs after the European Court of Human Rights decided the British Government had violated his right to father a child by not allowing him and his wife to have artifi cial insemination while he served a prison sentence for murder. In October 2008, it was reported that a Spanish woman, Elena Beloki, currently serving a 13-year prison sentence for her involvement with the Basque separatist organization, Eta, had been granted permission to receive IVF.