An unusual case has made headlines in Florida and across the nation. A man and woman who have gone through divorce have been engaged in a legal battle over the fate of their frozen embryos. The matter was recently decided, and the outcome may set a precedent for how similar cases are handled across the nation. The man was able to prevail, an outcome that means that he will not be forced to pay child support or fight for child custody.
The couple went through fertility treatments after the woman was diagnosed with cancer. The same treatment that saved the woman’s life also rendered her infertile. The couple, through the help of fertility specialists, were able to create and store multiple embryos that share their combined genetic material. After the pair divorced, the woman wanted to use those embryos to have a child, while her ex argued that the embryos should be destroyed.
In considering the issue, the court was able to review a document that both parties signed during the fertility process. The document stated that in the event of a divorce, any embryos would be destroyed. In court, the woman argued that the fact that she was no longer able to have a child of her own should be viewed as a “compelling argument.” Her ex husband argued that he should not be forced into a co-parenting relationship with his ex, and claims that she tried to use the embryos to influence the outcome of the couple’s divorce case.
The judge ruled that the woman may have the right to procreate, but that she does not have the right to do so with a partner who does not share that desire. The embryos are to be thawed and destroyed, although the facility that stores them is unlikely to follow through on that process before the woman has a right to appeal the decision. As for the man, he likely views the outcome as a victory, as he will not have to go through a bitter child custody and child support case with a woman he is no longer married to. The matter is certainly a divisive one, and has led to debate in Florida and across the nation.
Source: CBS News, “Judge: Divorced California couple’s embryos can be discarded“, Nov. 18, 2015