Petithory Lanzmann wanted to transport her dead son's frozen sperm to Israel to arrange surrogacy or assisted reproduction. But the right to have children is non-transferable, says European Court of Human Rights.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) on Thursday ruled that a woman cannot use the frozen sperm of her deceased son to fulfill his final wish to have a child.

Petithory Lanzmann, widow of French filmmaker Claude Lanzmann who directed the Holocaust-movie "Shoah," had planned to have her son's sperm transferred to a fertility clinic in Israel where she hoped to carry out his wish to be a father, even in the event of his death.

The Israeli clinic is authorized to carry out medically assisted reproduction and surrogacy.

However, after her son died from cancer in 2017, her application to transfer his sperm to Israel was rejected.

Judges at the ECHR unanimously declared that the right of an individual to decide how and when to become a parent was non-transferable.

This means Lanzmann's son's wish to become a father does not guarantee the right of his mother to become a grandparent.

The background to the case

Lanzmann's son was diagnosed with cancer in 2014. Shortly after his diagnosis, he expressed his wish to be a father and deposited his sperm in the CECOS clinic within the Cochin Hospital in Paris.

After his death in 2017, Lanzmann applied unsuccessfully to two French courts to have the sperm to her chosen clinic in Israel.

Lanzmann had argued that the refusal of a French fertility clinic to transfer the sperm to a reproductive unit in Israel meant that she was deprived of her right to a family life. She said she was entitled to become a grandmother and ensure that her son's wishes were respected.

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