Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Embryo Dispute

From Deseret News:

When Ruby Torres was diagnosed with cancer in 2014, at age 33, she was told her treatment could cause infertility. Torres knew she wanted to be a mother, so to increase her chances of having a biological child later on, she and her then-boyfriend John Terrell, then 37, agreed to create embryos — using her eggs and his sperm — and have them frozen for later implantation through in vitro fertilization, according to court documents.

At the fertility clinic, the couple signed a contract: if they were to split up, the embryos could either be donated to another couple, or one partner would be allowed to use them — as long as the other partner granted permission, court documents state. Four days later, they married.

In 2017, they divorced after three years of marriage, and a court battle over the embryos began. Torres wanted to keep the embryos, but Terrell didn’t want to father children with his ex-wife. A family court initially ruled in favor of Terrell, and then an appeals court overturned the decision and ruled in Torres’ favor. But on Jan. 23, the Arizona Supreme Court overturned the decision yet again, ruling in Terrell’s favor and requiring the couple to donate the embryos.

“It’s been an emotional roller coaster, but I’ve had hope from the beginning that one day I would be able to carry one of my own embryos,” Torres told the Deseret News. “Getting to this point, knowing that I’m going to be 40 and I have to have a hysterectomy to ensure that I don’t have cancer again, it’s very hard. I spent most of the weekend crying.”

Read more here.

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