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Judge rules couple’s contract to destroy embryos still valid

Infertility can be a very painful problem that affects many people every year in the United States. Fortunately, technology and modern science have given couples many options to attempt to get pregnant now or in the future, with one of these being in vitro fertilization. In vitro fertilization treatment involves implanting embryos, and there are usually several embryos prepared and frozen until the couple is ready to try a pregnancy.

However, what to do with these frozen embryos if the couple divorces before using them has become an increasingly common issue across the country. While each case that has played out in the courts is evaluated individually, it appears that one of the greatest determining factors in these situations is whether the couple had an agreement about what to do with the embryos should the couple divorce.

In one case recently ruled on in California, the judge decided that the couple’s contract with the fertility clinic was legally binding and enforceable. Therefore, the couple’s previous decision to “thaw and discard” the embryos was still applicable even though the woman in the situation now wished to keep them. Her ex-husband had disagreed, stating he was worried about the financial implications later on.

While this and several other cases involving frozen embryos and divorced couples has made it clear that any agreement a person signs during the fertility treatment is likely to be kept in place after a divorce, there is still the chance that specific laws and guidelines will be drawn up in the future to help clarify these matters and possibly give more options to those parties who wish to keep the embryos.

Source: The New York Times, “California Judge Orders Frozen Embryos Destroyed,” Andy Newman, Nov. 18, 2015

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