BATTLE OVER FROZEN EMBRYOS
Couples storing their embryos has become an increasingly common procedure over the last several years. But are we prepared to answer the ethical questions surrounding it?
Couples may freeze their embryos for a number of reasons. Most commonly, couples doing IVF (In Vitro Fertilization) will store the extra embryos as a backup in case the procedure doesn’t result in pregnancy. Today, couples are even using the procedure to put off having children by creating embryos and freezing them for a later date.
So what should these frozen embryos be treated as? Are they property? Are they children? What some people consider a new norm in reproduction has brought us into unknown territory. Life and death used to be so simple but technological advances have brought us to question all that.
Which leads us to the next question, what happens to the embryos in the event of a divorce?
Recently, we have heard about numerous couples battling in court over the fate of their frozen embryos. Actress, Sofia Vergara and ex Nick Loeb have been fighting over their frozen embryos since May. The couple had signed a contract stating that the embryos can only be brought to term with both parties’ consent. Nick Loeb has publically stated he wishes to keep the embryos and fulfil his desire to be a father. Sofia Vergara, who is engaged to another man, actor Joe Manganiello, wants to destroy the embryos. Loeb is now suing Vergara for custody of their two embryos.
Another couple facing similar troubles began trial on Monday. Mimi Lee and ex-husband Stephen Findley decided to freeze several embryos back in 2010 when Lee was diagnosed with breast cancer just 10 days before their wedding. Therefore, the couple decided to preserve the possibility of having a child together until after her cancer treatment. Once her cancer treatments were finished Findley filed for a divorce and demanded that the embryos be destroyed. Lee, who is now 46 and infertile, wants to keep the embryos as it is her last chance to bear a biological child. The couple did however sign an agreement stating the embryos would be discarded if the couple were to divorce. But have circumstances changed since she is now infertile? Or does the contract have to be upheld and enforced? When Lee signed the contract she was about to get married and facing an uphill battle for a serious illness. It could be said that Lee wasn’t in her right mind when she signed the agreement. Isn’t it a woman’s fundamental right to procreate?
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