A British woman has vowed not to give up her fight to be able to use her frozen IVF embryos to have a baby despite losing her desperate legal battle for the right to use them.
Natallie Evans had endured defeats in the British courts and faced an order to destroy the embryos, because her ex-fiance Howard Johnston withdrew his consent to use them.
With time running out for the use of her stored embryos, she turned to the European Court of Human Rights.
But yesterday the Strasbourg judges backed the British law requiring a partner's approval at every stage of the process.
The verdict effectively signals the final destruction of the six embryos which held Ms Evans's only hopes of having a child that is genetically hers.
But speaking after the ruling Ms Evans remained defiant.
In a statement she said: "I was very disappointed to learn of the judgment this morning. I had hoped that today would be a day for me to celebrate.
"I had really hoped that the Strasbourg decision would be an end to what I have gone through over the last four years.
"However, I am still as determined as ever to do everything possible to be allowed to try for a child of my own using my stored embryos. I have been advised that I can ask for the Grand Chamber of the European Court to consider my case and I intend to that.
"I would still prefer not to have to use the courts. Howard may feel it is too late for him to change his mind but it is not.
"Howard, please think about it."
Mr Johnston said he had "not really" had any doubts that his ex-fiancee's legal bid would fail.
He said: "The key thing for me was just to be able to decide when and if I start a family. That has been the basis for it."
He added he "could not countenance" having nothing to do with his child despite knowing he or she was somewhere in the world.
"It was something that we embarked on together, to have a child, and unfortunately that can't happen because we are no longer together. That really is where it ends."
Ms Evans's lawyers had argued in the human rights court that the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act governing IVF treatment was a breach of the Human Rights Convention which guarantees the "right to family life".
Her right to family life had been violated because the Act would not allow her to use the embryos without the consent of her partner at every stage of the process, the judges were told.
But the judges said the Act included a "clear and principled" rule, which was explained to those embarking on IVF treatment and which was clearly set out on the forms they both signed.
It was a rule "whereby the consent of either party might be withdrawn at any stage up to the point of implementation of an embryo".
The UK government, in making that stipulation, had not exceeded "the margin of appreciation afforded to it or upset the fair balance required (by the Human Rights Convention)".
Ms Evans and her then fiance opted for IVF when doctors said Ms Evans would be left infertile after being treated for cancer.
But the couple later split up, and Mr Johnston reversed his consent for the use of the embryos, saying he had changed his mind and did not want the financial or emotional burden of a child with Ms Evans.
In the British courts Ms Evans's lawyers argued that Mr Johnston had originally consented to the creation, storage and use of the embryos, and should not be allowed to change his mind.
Yesterday's verdict was not unanimous - two of the seven human rights judges hearing the case delivered a "dissenting opinion" backing Ms Evans.
The five others acknowledged that a different legal balance might have been struck by Parliament in drawing up the legislation - for instance, by making the consent of the male donor irrevocable.
But the question the Strasbourg Court had to decide was whether the law as it stood breached Ms Evans' human rights.
In finding that it did not, said the majority verdict, the court had "attached some importance" to the fact that the UK was by no means alone in Europe in granting both parties to IVF treatment an equal say on the use or storage of embryos right up to the stage of implantation.