Who Owns Frozen Human Embryos?: Nick Loeb vs. Sofia Vergara

A contract is a contract, but a more generous spirit might relent



As all the world knows, Florida businessman Nick Loeb and his former fiancee actress Sofia Vergara are in a dispute over what to do about two frozen embryos they produced together using IVF. The original idea was that the embryos would be implanted into a surrogate so that the couple could have two children. Before this could be accomplished Loeb and Vergana broke up. Now Loeb wants custody of the embryos and Vergara has refused.

Remarkably the New York Times has given Loeb space to plead his case in public in an op-ed today, "Our Frozen Embryos Have a Right to Live." In his op-ed Loeb writes:

In 2013, Sofía and I agreed to try to use in vitro fertilization and a surrogate to have children. We signed a form stating that any embryos created through the process could be brought to term only with both parties' consent. The form did not specify — as California law requires — what would happen if we separated. I am asking to have it voided.

Other reports characterize the contract between the two as stating that neither can take unilateral action and   both sides must consent to any action taken with regard to the frozen embryos. Vergara insists that she does not want to have children with her ex-fiance and prefers to leave the embryos frozen indefinitely.

Loeb does acknowledge that the legal precendents are mostly against him:

My lawyers have identified 10 other cases in the United States in which a parent tried to have a fertilized, frozen embryo taken to term against the wishes of an opposing parent. In eight of those cases, the parent seeking custody lost. In the other two cases, one in Pennsylvania and one in Illinois, a woman was awarded custody of fertilized embryos over the man's objections. In both cases, the woman had undergone chemotherapy treatment and the embryos were her last chance to have a biological child; judges ruled that the woman's interest in becoming a parent outweighed the man's interest in not becoming a parent. In the Illinois case (now on appeal), the judge found that the form the couple signed was not the binding contract, and instead enforced a verbal promise the man made to help the woman have children.

Loeb says that he would bear all costs in trying to bring the two embryos to term and relieve Vergara of all parental responsibility. Nevertheless, people should not be compelled to reproduce. While it would certainly be a generous act if Vergara were to relent, a contract is a contract.

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  1. Let it go, let it go. Turn away and slam the door…

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  2. This could be Loeb’s last chance to receive child support from someone on a hit TV show.

    1. The lover’s in love and the other’s run away, the lover is crying ’cause the other won’t stay…

      1. +1 reality bites

    2. He’s already a millionaire.

  3. “Nevertheless, people should not be compelled to reproduce.”

    If Loeb would win, Vergara would no more be compelled to reproduce than any man is following a normal biological conception.

  4. Both parties consent.

    That’s pretty cut and dry.

    1. I consent to her having my baby.

      1. If you didn’t I’d have to be concerned for you.

  5. In both cases, the woman had undergone chemotherapy treatment and the embryos were her last chance to have a biological child; judges ruled that the woman’s interest in becoming a parent outweighed the man’s interest in not becoming a parent.

    Even worse, the ruling in this case (Reber v. Reiss) explicitly left open the issue of whether the wife can seek child support for these babies.

    1. Except for the child support possibility, I’d say letting the woman decide makes sense. That’s how it works with the traditional method of making babies. You can’t knock someone up then demand that they return your genetic material. I guess it should work the same way when you knock someone up in a test tube.

  6. ” As all the world knows,”

    That’s sarcasm right? Cuz I’ve never heard of either of these people.

    1. Then do yourself a favor and google Sofia Vergara.

  7. And leave it to the Illinois judge to ignore the written contact and make shit up as they go along.

    Ought to be thrown off the bench.

    1. Well a Chicago judge did just let a murderous cop off because the prosecutor charged involuntary manslaughter instead of murder one.


  8. Does Tom Paris or Captain Janeway own their embryos from their time as giant horny salamanders created by traveling really fast? Who owes alimony?

  9. Do what the contract says. Otherwise, I don’t care at all and it doesn’t matter. Flush them, eat them, whatever.

  10. Ok. Does Loeb have some sort of problem that prevents him from making more viable sperm? Because I don’t see why he can’t just go out and find some other woman, make more embryos, and have those brought to term.

    Usually, it’s the woman’s eggs that are the limiting factor. Women only have so many eggs, and past a certain age, you run out of good ones. That’s why we have egg freezing.
    By contrast, men never run out of sperm. There are some aging problems associated with sperm, but it takes a lot longer for it to be an issue with men.

    So the point being if Vergara wanted to have more children, these embryos might be her only option to have kids with her own eggs. But there is no such limitation on Loeb. Unless he has some medical problem that makes these embryos his ONLY chance to have more children, he can go out and have more children without using THESE embryos.

    Thus for purely biological reasons, it makes sense that women would have more exclusive rights over embryos than men in these disputes.

    1. o/~ Every sperm is sacred
      Every sperm is great
      When a sperm is wasted
      God gets quite irrate o/~

      1. That quote makes even less sense in this context than it normally does.

  11. The bigger question is what kind of a weirdo tries to have a baby with Sophia Vigara and not do it the old fashioned way?

    1. She was not willing to do it the old fashioned way?

      Either her choice or medical issues related to age.

    2. “what kind of a weirdo tries to have a baby with Sophia Vigara and not do it the old fashioned way?”

      Anal fetish?

  12. I don’t think the State cares if one parent agrees to give up parental rights. If the kid needs State services they will come after her no matter what they agreed to.

  13. Here’s another suggestion for Mr. Loeb …. find an egg donor, create embryos using the egg donor’s eggs, and find a surrogate to carry the child to term. He’ll have exclusive control over the embryos and he can be a single father with sole parental rights.

  14. If this is what they’ve found to fight over, neither one should raise a kid.

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