The following comes from a July 13 LA Times article:
A court battle between a divorced couple over the future of their frozen embryos began Monday with an attorney for the former husband accusing the woman of using the dispute to get money.
Dr. Mimi Lee, 46, a pianist and part-time anesthesiologist, married Stephen Findley, a wealthy executive, five years ago. Shortly before the wedding, Lee learned she had breast cancer.
Unsure whether the disease would make it impossible for her to have children, the couple went to a fertility center, where Lee’s eggs and Findley’s sperm created five embryos, now frozen.
Findley filed for divorce two years ago and wants the embryos destroyed. Lee, now infertile, wants to implant the embryos into a surrogate and have a baby. Without the embryos, she will never have a child who shares her genes.
The dispute — the final issue to be decided in the couple’s divorce — went to trial in San Francisco County Superior Court on Monday. It will test the enforceability of consent agreements couples sign before obtaining reproductive technology and will probably make new law in California.
“While the vast majority of cases resolve in favor of the party wishing to avoid procreation, two recent decisions award the embryos to the woman who wished to use them to have a child,” Judith F. Daar, a professor at Whittier Law School, said in an email interview before the start of the trial.
In the cases won by the women, both had received a cancer diagnosis and were infertile, Daar said.
Another embryo dispute making its way through the California courts pits Nick Loeb against his former fiancée, actress Sofia Vergara. Loeb has sued Vergara in Los Angeles for custody of two embryos they created in 2013 (see California Catholic Daily article).
Findley’s lawyer, Joe Crawford, argued that the consent forms signed by Findley and Lee at UC San Francisco Medical Center cannot be changed unless by mutual agreement. The couple agreed in those forms that the embryos would be destroyed if the couple divorced, but would go to Lee if Findley died, the lawyer said.
Maxwell Pritt, a lawyer for Lee, countered that she has a fundamental right to procreate and her “only chance to procreate” are those embryos.
She did not consider the consent agreements a binding contract with Findley and never discussed the forms with Findley until he asked for a divorce, Pritt said.
He argued that the case would have broad implications for all women who want to assert their rights to have children.