Embryos ‘deprived of inheritance’ by not being born

family law

Two frozen embryos have been deprived of their inheritance by not being born, an unusual lawsuit claims.

Actress Sofia Vergara faces a legal battle in the southern state of Louisiana which was initiated on behalf of her embryos. The Modern Family star and her then-fiancé had them frozen back in 2013 for the purpose of IVF treatment.

However, when their relationship ended the following year the embryos were not destroyed. Her former fiancé, Nick Loeb, then filed a lawsuit in California for custody of the embryos but later asked for it to be dropped when it became clear that it was unlikely to succeed. One of the documents the couple signed at the fertility clinic stated that both parties must give consent before the embryos are brought to term and, through legal representatives, Vergara has claimed she does not want that to happen.

Now a new suit has been filed in Louisiana. It names the embryos, called ‘Emma’ and ‘Isabella’ in the legal documents, as plaintiffs. Although he is not officially named as a party to the lawsuit, the documents filed demand that the embryos be given to Loeb so they can be carried to term by a surrogate and receive their inheritance. This would come from a trust that had been set up for them in the state.

Family lawyers in the United States believe the lawsuit is Loeb’s attempt to succeed where his California bid did not. But attorney Michael Stutman believes this suit is similarly doomed to failure. He explained to the New York Post that the US Supreme Court has previously ruled that “to achieve the status of a protected human life an embryo has to be able to survive on its own”. As the embryos in this case cannot survive on their own, “they probably have as much legal protection to exist as your sofa” he said.

Other legal experts have suggested that the trust was set up in Louisiana because of the state’s fierce protections for the unborn. It is the only state in the union that treats embryos as people under the law. However, ‘Emma’ and ‘Isabella’ are located at a fertility clinic in California, so the chances of a Louisiana judge agreeing that the case should be heard there are low according to fertility lawyer Amy Kerns.

Photo by liz west via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence.

Stowe Family Law Web Team

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Vincent McGovern - December 8, 2016 at 12:27pm

Without going into too much corny detail this reminds me of the University law student (I believe) of many years ago who attempted to sue a date for breach of contract because she stood him up. As the two excessively famous people of above have split up it appears to me that is the end of the matter esp as they have no living children between themselves. As regards calling the embryos Emma and Isabelle does that mean that every seed a man produces should have half an identity (250,000,000 per time allegedly) and every egg a woman produces also have half a name, around 3-400 in an average woman’s fertility life. That is a lot of names needed. I’m familiar with the term’ clean break.’ Mr Loeb appears unaware of the phrase ‘move on.’

Andrew - December 8, 2016 at 12:50pm

Every time a couple have intercourse and the man is using a condom millions of homunculi are deprived of their inheritance too!

Still, I suppose it’s good news for the lawyers.

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