Over the past month, tabloid readers and entertainment reporters have been gobbling up all the hot gossip they can get a hold of about the on-going legal dispute between Modern Family star Sofia Vergara and her millionaire-ex, businessman Nick Loeb. At the heart of this very public sparring match are two infinitesimally small and frozen embryos that the couple created almost two years ago. As reported by MSNBC, Nick and Sophia were engaged for more than two years with plans to marry in late 2014. Once the ceremony and relationship hit the skids, the inevitable question was raised: who owns the embryos they created back in 2012 and can they be brought to term without the consent of the both parties? While the answer is foggy at best on these reproductive rights, there are a few concrete factors to consider.

Unlike frozen eggs, frozen embryos have been fertilized, in vitro, prior to freezing. They need only be thawed when the woman in question wishes to begin pregnancy. Couples that choose this type of procedure do so for many of the same reasons they freeze eggs or sperm. In some instances, the woman in question is slated to undergo a serious medical procedure, threatening her ability to have a child. Or perhaps the couple may simply wish to wait until they have reached a more stable footing in their relationship. Whatever the factors may be involved, frozen embryos can eventually be thawed and carried to term, with a very high degree of success.

But as opposed to the thawing of individual eggs, embryos are done in cooperation, raising a number of tricky questions. For instance, in Mr. Loeb and Ms. Vergara’s case, the embryos in question have already been identified as two girls. Mr. Loeb wishes to have the girls brought to term through a surrogate. As the news has reported at length, Ms. Vergara is entirely opposed to this decision. According to the contract drafted between the two, both parents must consent to whatever decision is made. Additionally, neither party, either in concert or separate, has the right to destroy the embryos. So, does this mean that the eggs will remain frozen indefinitely as directed by Sophia? Or will Nick’s attorney successfully argue that the two frozen girls have a “right” to life?

This case illustrates how the law is struggling to keep pace with evolving sciences, especially in the world of fertility, and in many instances, is unable to provide answers without a clear precedent or contractual obligation. If you are currently involved in a reproductive dispute and require legal guidance, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of Rick D. Banks and schedule a confidential consultation. Call our Fresno office at (559)222-4891.
Categories: Family Law